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Learning that we are black

November 9, 2017

 

 

It never makes sense. Their anger seems unjustified so we write it off. They are bitter without provocation. And when we ask them about it so that we can get a better understanding they only give us half stories. So much of their testimony is laced in bitterness that we deposit their testimonies far back in our minds. We don’t think we will revisit it later. We damn sure never imagine their anger will ever be legitimate. But we will. I hope we all will.

 

One plus one equals two. Your experience with your white friend down the street who plays with you when you're restless and in search for fun tells you that something about the way your aunt characterized white people doesn't add up.

 

Your favorite teacher (who is also white), who entices you with his words, who galvanizes the learning spirit in you to sit in attention to his every word, and who makes you feel as though you matter, that your thoughts are valuable and noteworthy, provide evidence against your mother's words.

 

History books make your father into a liar.

 

Your favorite shows will showcase racist acts as immoral every now and then. Your favorite stars are white but you don’t notice. Your love is colorblind.

 

When your mother, who you hold in great esteem, and your father, whose intelligence you respect tells you about white people you don’t believe them.

You’ve had the displeasure of being acquainted with malicious folk your whole life.

The white people you know are kind.

Well- they are okay. Just like everybody else.

 

And then one day- maybe you read Derrick Bell or Angela Davis or Cornel West or bell hooks. Maybe you watch one too many police brutality videos. You don’t know if it’s one event or one book that did it. It feels like it’s more of an accumulation of your whole life. You jump ship. You join the bandwagon that your mother and father and aunties and uncles have been on for decades. All of the ways you have been made to feel your whole life now makes sense,

 

The best and most uncomfortable part about life is reading. It’s like you intimately knew about the ideas that were written in your favorite author’s books before you ever read their books. And it's crazy because there are hundreds of them. There are hundreds of readings. People have been writing and expressing and feeling the same things as you do for centuries now. You're sad for yourself. You are angry. You are bitter. You are thankful to them; the authors. You choose to learn from them.You experience their world almost as they do They endured the painful and uncomfortable process of determining the “right” philosophical position so we won’t have to.

 

There are so many videos of people being beaten by bad cops. And there are so many people coming out revealing themselves as white supremacist as if it were a new fad, as if they did not care if their identification as a white supremacist lost them their livelihood. There are so many testimonies from people of color; so many stories of mistreatment. Of pain. Of sorrow. There are so many angry bitter people; so many many many people tired of being fucked over and exploited and tired of being lied to about being fucked over and exploited. It hurts.

 

And yet you have hope. There has been so much progression and regression. You see history more clearly now.  We progress. Then regress. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. History is erased. We remember. We read. We protest. We progress. Repeat. History is erased. Repeat. We learn. We remember. We regress. Regress. Regress.  Repeat. Perhaps it didn't take place in that exact order but you see your generation as somewhere in the progression stage. And yet you hope anyways. Aren't we a beautiful people?

 

 

 


 

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