“Every closed eye is not sleeping — and every open eye is not seeing.” — African proverb
It shouldn’t be hard to imagine, that ordinary/extraordinary Black people might be exhausted from the expectation of knowing all stuff that falls under the umbrella of Blackness.
All the weighty stuff of our history with racism —slavery — colonialism — misogyny — religion — language — war — revolution, etc. All the not so weighty stuff and everything in between like what the fuck is up with Kanye?… ‘What happened to you? You used to be cool’ *shrugs shoulders*, or the Wakanda salute or how to corn row hair. I have zero hair skills for the record. How this all informs our present, how it impacts our becoming.
Can we be forgiven for wanting to lean into the whole ‘ignorance is bliss’ stance, if only for a few moments — to relieve the pressure of what is already known and what we’re yet to discover?
Can we be forgiven for choosing to close our eyes, take our lives off for a while — and just breathe?
I say ‘Yes we can!’ (Thank you Mr Obama)
OK, the title of this post — is laced with diplomatic sarcasm. I’m not saying I’m pissed the fuck off (well, I am a little sometimes, other times — it’s a lot), I am saying — It’s Black history month here in the UK — and it’s the height of ‘ask your Black friend about any and everything that is remotely linked to Blackness — no matter how random’ season.
‘Oh D, what language do they speak in Burkina Faso?’
Me: *stares blankly* ‘Burkina what? *sighs*
Hear my confession, until just over a year ago — I had never heard of Burkina Faso, how about you? *waits*
Since then enter the Google, I have enlightened myself somewhat to know it is a country landlocked by Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Ivory Coast in West Africa.
Seriously though, I am all for folks all over the world being open to learning and trying to understand one another more and more. Deep conversations between folks who have mutual respect, appreciation of each others humanity — is the life force that builds friendship, marriage, love — just all the good stuff I guess.
But, if you basically only seek my knowledge/opinion about ‘Black stuff’, or you believe you can only relate to me by dropping into the conversation Malcolm X or Bob Marley or Harriet Tubman or breaking out the two sentences you know in Swahili (that’s two more than me by the way) or how your dad was a missionary in ‘Africa’ or marched in nineteen whenever ago or did I watch the remake of Roots (I didn’t, well — I saw about 15 mins of it and couldn’t contain the heartbreak to complete the episode, let alone the whole series) and how do I think it compared to the original series? Or what did I think of the book Soul on Ice? Me: ‘haven’t read it, but I know it’s author Eldridge Cleaver wrote about how he used Black women to practice rape before raping white women whilst he was in prison for rape and intent to murder, so there’s that.’ If you can’t fathom the idea — that I might know a little stuff about stuff other than Blackness, that is some kind of fuckery and you are problematic.
In my mind when those are the only stones that fall out of your mouth repeatedly only in the company of your ‘Black friend’ — or any Black person particularly during Black history month like your own brand of fail safe conversation starters — I start wondering if you reside in Narnia or what happened to you as a child or what drugs you might be taking, as well as restraining myself from flicking you in the ear so you might tune in and hear me thinking ‘you suck!’
The African diaspora is so broad, there are more than fifty shades of Black. We are not monolithic. I repeat — we are not monolithic.
I am no Obi-Wan Kenobi of Blackness. I am a part of it, I am not the whole way — middle or otherwise. What I am, is a curious human who is proud of her Blackness.
It is Black history month in the UK, Black history is human history. Black lives do matter #truestory.