If I knew back then what I knew now... it would be a much shorter and less interesting life. We learn through experience, not being given the answers.
What does it mean to be black for goodness sakes? I was thoroughly exhausted with the being the representation for others asking the question. Sick of the media trying to define it for me and confused on how any other Black adult felt about the topic at hand.I won’t lie to you dear reader, this post is a rewrite. Ironically the original post has been lost somewhere in the ether and for the better.
Originally when I stirred restlessly on the idea of black culture and community I was writing the article 'A Field of Dreams' At the same time I found myself surrounding by women (my roommates) who were dignified in their culture as proud Hispanic women. Classes I had at the time were themed around race and ethics.
This time in my life was pushing me find my voice and I was more than opposed to being heard for my take on identity.
Specifically my Race and Ethnicity in Psychology class, I wrote a reeking research paper on what defined black culture called ‘Scraping Together a New Culture’. I interviewed my friends - black,white, and Hispanic. I researched blackness, and still managed to halfheartedly write this paper, which should have held much more weight, if only I put in the effort.
The issue was that my opinions on the subject were not solid in themselves. I couldn’t answer any of the questions I was asking. I do believe my take on the Black body was obscure and detached.
I was not black, I was not raised to be a color.
In my upbringing I had been raised to be dignified in my religion and that was synonymous with my identity. Hebrew Israelite, daughter of Zion, lost tribe of Judah, God’s chosen. As I grew older, I found that society as far as the internet says, thinks my beliefs were a cult?
I can assure that I had been conditioned to a certain moral standard and ideals but I was not brain-washed to serve man’s master plan of transcendence.
College allowed me to widen my view on religion vs. spirituality. That weakened my idea of what it meant to be me once I loosened my vice grip on being God’s chosen.
Yes, I very well know that not even 50% of black people were raised in the same faith as me, which left me at a disadvantage to find community. Those that shared my faith were converted and it’s arguably more confusing to discuss faith with someone from a different church.
I listened to hip/hop and R&B.
I watched as many Black movies as BET could provide.
I’ve had plenty mouthfuls of soul food.
Did this define Blackness, was it enough to connect with my people?
Not in the slightest.
The truth of the matter was that Blackness in America is a reconstructed culture formed from the dismembered parts of Africa. We have fragments, shards of tradition. Traces of who we were once known to be can be found in our music, food, and our art.
Our roots were founded in soil that poisons us, stunts our growth, clips our budding flowers. Its shameful to say but at one time I hated myself and the perception that preceded me before I walk into the room.
I struggled with possessing anything as Black as it is now a reflection of pop culture these days. There was nothing to attribute blackness to that was exclusive to us, if only we had a language.
In late December I was gifted a DNA kit that might put my mind at ease with insight to where my blood had been.
This process required a hefty swab of saliva and 6 weeks of patience.
I had been checking my progress through emails with anticipation. One unexpected night in January while I was “cutting a rug” and throwing back rails on a Thursday night I received the answers I was seeking,
(This is just a snapshot for sharing purposes)
By no means did this give me enough to solidify the definition of Black culture but it did give me comfort that I was putting my personal identity together. I wasn’t going to start learning the native tongue or dresses in the traditional wear but something to connect to made my heart smile. This is who I represent from a distance.
Considering the circumstances, the definition of Black is ever evolving and has no box to be fit.