Underneath my Skin, I'm Just Like Me
I want to preface this by saying that for me, and I’d assume for most others too, it’s a lot easier to understand what I’m feeling than to actually articulate it into words that form cohesive sentence. So, here’s my best attempt at doing so and forgive me if it doesn’t come across as eloquently as hoped.
The other day I was sitting in my room reflecting and a thought suddenly came to me — that I want to transcend race. The reason I say this is because I’m tired of carrying the weight it comes with. Tired of being angry, tired of being othered, tired of being compared to some other standard that has never and will never be my normal, tired of being asked about my hair, or even worse, of people touching it — surprisingly, it still happens and maybe even more than when I was in school — tired of being the punchline, and tired of being acknowledged for the gratification of another. This load can be so depleting when all I want is to live my life in it’s full capacity; to amount to my fullest potential. I want to feel free to be me outside of the context of Blackness, because although it’s a monumental part of who I am, it still isn’t all of me, and I fear that this context can be quite limiting at times. In all truthfulness, ‘blackness’ wouldn’t exist without the socially constructed concept of race, meaning it couldn’t even exist without the understanding of ‘whiteness’. They compliment each other and both need the other to carryon. When one questions what ‘whiteness’ is without the context of any other races, one realizes it has no power since there is nothing to dominate over.
When I say that I fear it is limiting, it’s because subconsciously (and maybe consciously) we are also comparing ourselves to these societal norms where whiteness is at the centre of everything. Whether we are fighting for the right to be different or the right to assimilate and become equal, I fear that we may not be considering what life could possibly be like without any of this race crap. And no— I am not suggesting everyone become colourblind and stop acknowledging race. It’s evidently there. It’s everywhere. Nearly every corner of our world has an anti-black agenda engrained within it’s society. Even in the world of wellness and meditation, where ‘a bright white light‘ or some variation of that phrase is always used to symbolize goodness and purity, while ‘black’, and ‘darkness’ is used to describe negativity, depression, evilness. And to that, I say at the top of my lungs, fuck that. I will not subscribe to that narrative anymore and I refuse to even engage with it. I’m no longer going to try and fix my mouth to explain how damaging it is to people, to the psyche, especially in the context of meditation and/or helping vulnerable people. I am way too committed to loving myself and my people that choosing to engage in that discourse would only be a disservice to me and what is important. Going back to when I mentioned that I’m tired of being angry — I really don’t know how to participate in it without becoming enraged, and I don’t need to put myself in that position. In a speech from Toni Morrison’s, The Source of Self- Regard, she says, “...rage has limited uses and serious flaws. It cuts off reason and displaces constructive action with mindless theatre,” and I agree, I’ve been there so many times and I’d honestly rather just keep my peace.
I want to help reshape our world, the world of my people, where we are the norm and we are the standard. A world where these standards are set by us and the belittling comparisons are no more. For us to unlearn all the lessons we’ve been taught throughout our lives. To reinvent what it means to be Black. And not by going to our oppressors and asking/demanding them remove their foot from our necks and change the system, not by given them our attention at all. I feel that we should cease to focus on all of what we don’t want, but to nourish our imagination to discover what we do want. I see so much of our energy, our currency, being spent on fighting against and not enough of it spent on fighting for. I have been notorious for expending so much valuable energy on this too. Where we would simply fight for the bare minimum — the freedom to live, the right to exist in peace. As important as fighting this cause is, I feel that this is a part of our oppressors’ tactic and they love that we do this, because it distracts us from going on any further; it doesn’t allow us to imagine what type of life could be possible beyond, because we are so preoccupied with the fight for the most basic equality. I think they love it, because the more we focus on what we don’t want, the more of it will come, and that seems to be the trend happening right now.
I want to imagine a world where I am the majority and to look the way I do is normal. Where no one feels the need to reach for my hair with their pale hands to touch it because it’s just regular. I envision a world where I am not considered exotic and I’m not fetishized because everyone’s just used to it. I imagine a society that runs itself based on the way I live my life. Where healthcare systems operate based on the way my genes are coded. A society that’s based on the way my family functions. I want to imagine living the life my ancestors did; at the centre.
I say that I want to transcend race, because for me, Black is the standard. It is my standard, and it always will be. I no longer need to highlight it or repeat it over and over, because it is the expectation. It is where my loyalty lies and where my service is intentionally directed towards. My best will always be given to my people, because I know how everyday in this world can be a battle. Everywhere we go, we are told ‘no’, but to you all I say yes. Yes, you are at home. Yes, you are perfect and you are stable here. Not only are you wanted, but you are needed. Like baby sis Solange said, we gotta~ “create [our] own committees, build [our] own institutions, give [our] friends awards, award yourself, and be the gold [we] wanna hold.”
I say all this to proclaim we set the standard and dare to imagine our wildest dreams as our reality. We need understand these visions as valid possibilities. I suggest trying to let go of what we don’t want and don’t even pay them any mind. Continuously ask, ‘What do I want?’ then ask the Universe and trust that you will receive ~ our mighty Universe wants us to thrive, we just have to believe it’s possible ourselves.