What if we loved black people as much as we loved black culture? —Amandla Stenberg. [Paraphrased]
You know that famous quote, 'everybody wants to be black until it's time to be black'? This one guy (who'd once said that black people have 'more criminal tendencies than [their] white [counterparts]') said to me, 'oh it's so cool being black now—I wish I was black'. The beauty of whiteness is that you can love black and African cultures, love the music, love the countries we occupy, love the clothes we wear, love the vastness of the land we have (hell, even colonise a country or two...Or ten *wink*).
You can dress in our traditional clothes, speak the languages, plump your ass and lips to look like that of black woman's — my friend, you can do it all and take it all, without permission of course, as your forefathers have always done. You can become an 'ally'. But you see, concerning these things when push comes to shove, you can give up all the love for blackness too. In effect, you are able to 'pick up' blackness as much as you can put it down. I don't have that ability.
Your value of me is etched into my skin, in plain sight.
It's like this.
Like when your mother jumps off a balcony to escape from an abusive husband who wished his kids were more racially ambiguous. Like walking home to your house only to find that your place of supposed refuge has been torched and spray-painted with the words 'No niggers in here'. Like when your mother comes home sobbing because a white man pulled a gun out on her at work and told her to go back to her country. Like when the police said that there was nothing they could do.
Like when your mother is a nurse and cares for Nazi veterans, cleans up their shit, feeds them and clothes them but still gets abused daily. Like when she has no choice but to stay, because she has kids to feed. Like when at 8 years old you want to be white like the other kids. Like when at 6, the kids at school call you 'Zwarte Piet' because your dark skin and curly hair resembles that of a golly-wog because that is the only representation of blackness they see. Like when you can't tell your mother any of this.
Like when at 16 in school — you're actually called a golly-wog. Like when the guy you're dating says he actually prefers your mixed-race friend instead. Like when mixed-raced girls become the true measure of black beauty. Like when people ask you if you've tried Hydroquine. Like when at 15, in an all white school your Science teacher asks you what it feels like to be black. Like at 13, sobbing and telling your music teacher that you hate being black and wish you hadn't been born in this God-forsaken skin.
Like when four white men corner you in darkness and call it banter because 'black bitches like that'.Like when after you've been assaulted, you're asked if you were dressed 'provocatively' because as a black girl you can't be running around like these white girls.
Like when bleaching your skin is as a commodity as drinking water,
or perming your
hair is as normal
as the blood that runs
through your body.
Like when your white colleagues automatically refer to you as 'sassy' 'diva-ish' and/or 'fiery' when you say something they disagree with. Like being called 'pretty for a black girl', because the notion of a beautiful black woman is absurd. Like being a fetish. Like being called an angry black woman because you want justice and respect too. Like black men calling black women difficult and not their 'type'. Like your black guy friends telling you to chill and stop being a 'black power fighter'.
Like when you're in the workforce and you have to be careful not to be too loud or too seen or too passionate, just so you don't fit that stereotype. Like whenever the preacher-man refers to an unattractive and mean woman, she is always dark as night.
in the church-house. Like colourism
in your family.
Like the man from the barbershop who blocks my way and insists I smile at him and stop being a 'bitter black woman'.
Like being told you are too ghetto. Like not being smart enough. Like not knowing your place. Like being black. Like being a woman. Like feeling numb. Like getting killed because you knew your rights and executed them. Like being executed like #SandraBland. Like becoming a hashtag. Like when you're murdered by a racist cop and the media puts your body on trial like you deserved it.
Like justifying the murders of black men and women. Like the erasure of black people. Like the people that made a vow to protect you are the very ones dancing on your grave. Like how through it all, when people ask you how you are, you want to say 'shit I'm exhausted—Jesus nurture me', but for the sake of others you smile say 'great, and yourself?'.
Like fearing for your life because you know that Sandra Bland could have been you. Like fearing for your life because you know that Miriam Carey could have been you. Like Tanisha Anderson could've been you. Like Yvette Smith could've been you. Like Rekia Boyd, Like Natasha Mekenna, Like Aura Rosser and countless other black women persecuted for the sin of being black, woman and alive.
[Nanny]: "Honey, de white man is de ruler of everything as fur as Ah been able tuh find out. Maybe it’s some place way off in de ocean where de black man is in power, but we don’t know nothin’ but what we see. So de white man throw down de load and tell de nigger man tuh pick it up. He pick it up because he have to, but he don’t tote it. He hand it to his womenfolks. De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see." (2.44)
-Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neal Hurston.