I wrote on Facebook a few days back that I’d like to exist outside of race. I knew when I wrote it that it was the type of thing that needs explaining. I knew most either wouldn’t understand or would draw from it a message I never meant to send. But still I said it because
it’s my page and aint nobody bout to stop me from saying what I want, feel me? it was on my mind and I wanted to share. So here I am to flesh out those bare bones and make myself clear.
I don’t live in an imaginary utopia. Aint no postracial nothing around here (even though I recognize that race only exists because we insist it does). I understand hatred and oppression are alive and well, but I cant trod around in that muck and mire and expect to still have energy left for living. Tried it. It just don’t work.
I guess it was becoming a parent that changed things, because I promise blackness never weighed so much before. I was just as aware and informed, just as down for the cause, but there was no fear, no worry. I had the utmost confidence that this world would do me right. But now I have little black children in my care, and my confidence gets shaky. Every time I hear about another black person killed by police, I rush to change the channel before my kids can understand the implication of such an act. Every time a little boy gets sent home for a “distracting” haircut or a little girl for a natural hairstyle, I think of all the hell my usually calm self would have to raise in defense of my babies. Every time I read about black kids not getting the same attention and consideration in the classroom, I question the otherwise satisfactory school I send them to. It’s a lot. It’s suffocating. I can’t sustain.
There is a quote that says, “What you focus on expands.” I promise its true. I see it and feel it, engulfing me, closing in around my neck, inching up toward my mouth and nose. It makes me feel helpless, like no amount of loving and teaching and protecting will shield my children from those whose minds are already set. It’s a lot. It’s suffocating. I can’t sustain.
I miss the days when blackness reminded me only of joy and strength. When it made me think only of Malcolm’s smile and Garvey’s feathered hat. When it made me think only of Bethune’s pearl necklace and Soujourner Truth’s crisp, white bonnet. It was the excellence, grace and steel of blackness that always stood with me and held me far above an anger I could have rightfully settled in. Growing up, blackness was about family and resilience, about making a way and finding a way. It was about the bump and rhythm of black communities, the laughter that never gets drowned out by pain. Perhaps I was just naive, but I’d like to go back there.
So if its ok with you, I’d like to suspend my blackness for a bit. Hang it up, give it a breather. I’m not going to do anything to my appearance. I was just hoping I could, you know, be. Was hoping I could get a few carefree days where my only concerns would be what to put in my first grader’s lunch and how to keep my house clean. Was hoping I could get lost in the humdrum of everyday life, lulled to peace by the regularity and predictability of it all. A girl can dream, right? Free of worry. Free of worry. Free of worry.
That’s important, the “free of worry” part because I
need to must raise children who feel free to take ownership of this world. We don’t do cages. They have to know they can go anywhere and everywhere their efforts take them. But how will they know that if they’re trapped in fear? How will they know that if they learn from me, directly or indirectly, that the world is out to get them? I can’t do that to my babies. Might as well bind their hands and feet. The effects would be the same.
Can I really relinquish my blackness? Of course not, but I can disengage and go into my cocoon. I can stick my fingers in my ears and pretend not hear any of the pounding. May not be the best tactic, but it’s all I got. I’m tired.