Sunday, July 18, 2010
Reflection-Grounded in Blackness
Reflection- Grounded in Blackness
Honoring my Mother
In continuing to share my internal dialogue out loud, I share my Reflection, Grounded in Blackness. In writing on this week, I celebrate my mother on her birthday and honor her on the anniversary of her passing. Thanks Mama for grounding me in my Blackness.
I write this with a Malcolm X phrase in mind. Malcolm X stated many times, “Being Pro Black does not mean I am anti-white, it just means I am Pro Black.”
I ask myself and you, what does that mean for people of African descent today?
What does it mean to the community we live in? What does it mean to you?
What led me to ask these questions and continue repeating Malcolm X’s words were a few incidents and moments that have left a lasting impact.
In telling one of the stories, I hope I bring you along to the realness of the pain I felt at that moment and since.
I was on a bus in the community. A Latina, visually to me, of African descent, was sitting in the front with her two children. The little girl was so charming that we had already chatted while waiting. Soon after an African American woman came in with a baby carriage.
She looked at the Latina woman and said, get up. She did not say please or excuse me just, get up. The Latina woman looked at her and would not move. The stand off prohibited others to enter the bus.
Finally another Latina woman said, “sientate aqui,” sit here. The woman with her two children seemed to be struggling deeply with moving but she finally did.
Everyone began to enter. An elder West Indian woman was one of the first to
enter. One thing I have learned with my West Indian elders is that they will speak their mind and she was no different.
With her strong presence and accent she said, “cho, that child fresh, I would not move, me move with that rudeness, cho.” I kept saying to myself, this is getting uglier.
My luck, the West Indian woman sits next to me. Now I feel that I am fully engaged in the situation. She keeps going on about how rude the woman was. The African American woman then directs her words to the West Indian woman. She yells, “shut up, go back on the boat that you came from with your stupid accent.”
Ouch, I thought. There was no need to go there, this is getting really bad. I then look at the West Indian woman and in my own Caribbean accent said, “Maam, please let go, this is not good and you should not be spoken to that way.” She looks at me and says, “Sweetie, you West Indian” I say yes, Maam, my grandparents are. That was her introduction to share her disgust with what she was seeing and hearing.
I am thinking this is done then, the African American woman directs another statement to her and says, “you don’t belong here, go back to where you came from.”
This situation becomes deeply painful to me. Why? All these women are connected, connected in their Blackness, connected in their history as people of African descent.
My spirits is on fire as I sit with this pain. I know I will need to say something. I have already calmed down the woman next to me. The Latina woman’s daughter was looking at me for comfort through the entire incident. I then feel the need to connect with the sister at the front.
My stop is coming up so, I stand and move closely to the front, I slowly step next to her and say, “Sister, the next time you tell anyone to go back on the boat to where they came from and that they do not belong here, ask yourself, how did you get here, peace.” I slowly walked off and have not been able to shake off the visual pain of the incident.
I ask again, what does it means to be grounded in Blackness or Pro Black? Why did I see the connection?
First, Being Pro Black means loving self and loving my Black brother and sister unconditionally.
Pausing for a moment, I know that putting this out is thought provoking and may mean some isolation but there is a sense of freedom that hugs you when you are speaking truth to your own reality. This is not the time for easy conversations if we really want to transform our world.
I made a list of a few things that answer the question for me at this moment in my life.
Being Grounded in Blackness means;
-Feeling the pain of all who face the inequality and racism that exist in our society.
-Feeling responsible for the city that shaped me. Acknowledging the obstacles it faces and looking at those who say, “I cannot go there” that I can because that is who I am and what I come from.
-Naming the Health Care disparities that exist that places my family in the position to fight for the best treatment for my nephew who is battling cancer.
-Loving a Black man and all he brings to the table.
-Hugging my nine year old nephew and letting him know that he is bright and can think outside the box.
-Telling my niece everyday that she is FABULOUS.
-Feeling the hurt of any Black woman who is rejected by any Black man for the stereotypes that have been placed on us, such as, too aggressive, confrontational and not those that speak to our depth as, survivors, loyal and loving.
-Acknowledging the deeply rooted Institutional racism that exists in the Americas and naming those who benefit from the division in our communities.
-Telling my girls from the H.E.R. Project and every young girl of color, that they are strong and intelligent.
-Embracing, learning and acknowledging a spiritual philosophy that has been labeled as devil worshiping.
-Standing strong while you sit with your discomfort as we continue to face the inconsistencies in health care, education and economics.
-Feeling responsible for not being home to push back at those who think Colon is what it is only because of the people. Colon is not in the state that it is only because what many say, the people are lazy, the crime, which I acknowledge is really bad, but also because the government has forgotten about the people specifically those who make up the majority of the community.
-Loving the texture of my hair, the curve in my hips and the rhythm of my soul.
Grounded in Blackness is not being taken off the path that people of African descent will be loved, held, acknowledged for the work and the depth that we awake to everyday.
These are many questions and thoughts as we transform and grow. Once your eyes are open you see so much and feel so much that there is no going back.
-Walking in Chota, Ecuador and crying from the deep sense that we were and are here.
-Continue to learn about my family and sharing the real story.
-Defining myself, my identity.
-Walking away from your insult because nothing you can say, including, “ I have a Black friend” can change the fact that you crossed the line.
-Knowing that those who walk close to me and have had a lasting impact on me who are not Black find our similarities, our humanness, but in opening my eyes to the reality of my childhood and my experiences as an adult, that our roads take different destinations when my Blackness come into play.
-Not loosing focus to the discomfort of others who refuse to hear our reality.
-Believing in my power to change and give to my community.
I give thanks to my mother for leaving a legacy of being proud and not allowing anyone to shake that, for showing me the connection between every Black Panamanian, leading me on a deeper search of that unity. Thanks, for the gift of seeing myself in Nicaragua, Belize, Ecuador and the women of Nigeria.
Thanks Mama for supporting my need to break down the barriers that I saw as a child, for reminding me to take my shoes off to be one with my teammates on the track team and for sitting us down as a family to watch Sounder.
I will continue to build a list and walk with the spirit that keeps me Grounded in my Blackness. Build your list and allow yourself to be free.
Peace and love,