Am I writing this for white folks or my own people? Everything goes through that filter. I need to know how much of this ‘jig’ I have to do because the ‘jig’ is necessary to the social movement of a black person in the corporate and academic arenas. This facade I put up at the office, in the lecture hall and almost everywhere else is only to make sure I’m seen a competent and not as a threat. I hate the jig… but, I learned it young and I do it well.
Underneath my not-so-blackface I’m fatigued and angry. My mother was a child then but, I remember how they locked up, forced out and killed our leaders in the 60’s and then how “the man” (various government and capitalistic policies and groups that organize our society often times favoring certain demographics over others) kept us down - all as if I lived through it myself. All throughout, not just American history but, world history the color of my skin was constrained to the narrative “black is the bottom.” That is why I am angry. I remember growing up not knowing any better, just young and foolish, like Tamir Rice who was murdered a few miles from my home. I know the fear of potentially being killed during a standard traffic stop and the stress of continuously navigating hundreds of questionable remarks and positions I find myself in because of the color of my skin. In addition to my general personhood my blackness covers me and like the jig I had to learn about my blackness. This is why I’m tired.
At one time I believed I was a Christian before I was black and on some level that is true but, the reality of my experiences have taught me that I am black before I am anything else. Now I understand the feeling Stokely Carmichael had when he spoke at UC Berkeley in 1966; I finally understand the feeling Malcolm X had when he gave The Ballot or the Bullet in 1964. Above these I understand and embody what Martin Luther King Jr. felt when he gave his I Have A Dream speech and, like him, I too have a dream that one day we will not be divided but, we will be together and unified so much so that we might as will be one in the same. I dream that we will learn each other’s experiences to a degree where they will be our own. That is my vision for the country in which I live. But, until then I will be black first in this world.
28 Days is a project about perspectives of people whose lives intertwine with the black struggle either personally or through others close to them. Along with their perspective they entrust us with what they hope for moving forward.
We hope this helps drive conversation, breaks down barriers and incites change.
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