SistahSpeak…I Love Being Black

sistahspeak Some things ought to go without saying. I love being black is one of them. At first I was going with the title I Love Being A Black Woman. Upon reflection I decided above all else I love being black. The woman part is just the cherry. Even if male, I would still love being black.

As a young girl I found it interesting that white people didn’t value the color of their skin. Otherwise they would not oil and fry themselves in the effort to look brown. Like me. From childhood on the color of my skin was a plus on the side of blackness. Even if people didn’t want to admit it.

Even those who fear too close a relationship between the sun and skin found a way through tanning beds and self tanning lotions. Before they found a cure for cancer.

I love being black.

When I studied the Great Depression I asked family members how it had affected them. Without exception the group consented around the idea that times were rough. Times were always rough. At least, living in the country they were able to raise some hens, own a mule,some land and hands strong enough to do what needed doing. I bet there are quite a few of us who can remember a mother or grandmother who could go into a kitchen with nothing resembling a meal and make one.

Being black to them meant more than something measured as a lifetime of hard work, few rewards and a once in a while a celebration which with each telling came more importance,more laughter and a greater fondness than whether things were tight from time to time. It meant working with the hope that something better lay ahead.

I still hold in memory times when no one had a blessed thing to do more important than getting together. The males plus me would toss real horseshoes while the women gathered drinking iced tea,catching up and laughing about things I was too young to understand. At least that is how I played it off.

At the age or nine I figured out that when people looked at me they saw a child. I decided it was easy enough to continue the charade until my body caught up. I developed a measure of control in stifling laughter. My father who loved to tickle kids could not get a laugh out of me. While he was in hospice I finally told him how hard it was not to laugh. I thanked him for the many times this control had blessed me. He seemed please to discover he was not a failure in the tickle department. He was proud of me for the control I learned.

I had mastered the art of no recognition in the eyes and on the face. Can’t even count the money I won gambling with folks who tried to read my face or eyes. Along the line, I met a few who could see me even from the distance where I protected myself. Being black during those times were about self protection. It still is. They are all friends.

In college I used to hustle men at pool. Men were interesting because when you hustled them they would bring their friends and buddies to get hustled.

As mothers our children’s innocence is taken away as he or she begins to question things that seem unfair or just plain wrong. All children I believe are born with a sense of what is just and what is fair. Our experiences of how or if justice is meted out becomes the outline of what we will or will not tolerate. What we can and cannot see.

It is hard for people for whom the system seems to work to acknowledge it might not work equally for people not like them. Under this thinking the little,consistent and persistent injustices creates an imbalance which in time wears the system down so that it begins to fail everyone, not just the few. I am glad that growing up black in America did not desensitize me or disappointed me and left me feeling overwhelmed,outnumbered.

Not out witted. I love being black.

I love the way we lift our heads and the effort it takes to keep our hearts open. I have learned to define the word hope as a heart that is open. A black man led a nation to live with open heats, believing the just is possible. Our collective history has lived with hope for nearly four hundred years. By any measure that a lotta,lotta,whole lotta. Hope.

I love being black whether purple,paper bag brown,high yella and a color of pale found only with Africa at the root. I love being part of so much variety.

I figured out a while back that white people, a good number of them fear black. The color,the symbolism of the dark embeds itself early. I love being the dark. I do not fear myself.

I am a black woman. I was once asked by a retired Naval Admiral if I were a voodoo priestess. He was being nasty. I asked him if his penis had fallen off. I was being nice.

I could name a million more things I love about being black.

Chief among them the knowledge that the arc of justice, no matter how slow bends toward me.

I love being black.

Now run and tell that.

Cross poster http://www.criticalmassprogress.com

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Comments
4 Responses to “SistahSpeak…I Love Being Black”
  1. dmitcha says:

    THIS!

    “A black man led a nation to live with open heats, believing the just is possible. Our collective history has lived with hope for nearly four hundred years. By any measure that a lotta,lotta,whole lotta. Hope.”

    And all the wonderful rest of THAT.

  2. princss6 says:

    Great post, Robin!

    I love being black, too! I think it was in college that I figured out, I would not trade being black for the view of a distorted world that all too often comes with whiteness. You know watching TV and actually believing that a black man in South Carolina car jacked Susan Smith and drove off with her kids. That is one example of having knowledge that whiteness makes far to many ignorant of that declutters the mind to focus on what is real without the distortions.

    I love the richness and diversity of my family. I can’t get past loving the diversity in political thought at this point because unfortunately some of that diversity in political thought supports and excuses the death and destruction of far too many black people.

    I agree and have said in the past, if white people in the US want to know where they will be in ten years, they need only look to where black people are now.

    And despite the persistent and deadly racism that you and I and others have to deal with on a daily, I hold dear the upliftment of my race because I take great strength and pride in where we’ve been and how much we have overcome among those who don’t even deem us as equal or human.

    • robinswing says:

      Amen to all that. I too thought of Susan Smith and felt gratitude this didn’t happen fifty year ago. No telling how many black men would have paid for her heinous crime. From day one I knew she was lying.

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