I often wonder can a people who were enslaved really love their oppressors. Is that really grace and justice?;— or, is that mere foolishness. Love conjures one into an imaging, where imitation becomes an emblem of honor and respect. Therefore, to love your oppressors means you then must assemble some of their characteristics: greed, malice, hatred, strife, selfishness, etc.
I am not being overzealous with my approach, but love is not a flexible concept. It has to be rigid in its function but comfortable in its application. So, a slave master can’t love his slaves and slaves can’t love their slave master. In the case of the slave, it’s simply fear. They mimicked the slave master in order to be invisible. (As I stated earlier, love is about imaging and imitating.) Invisibility, not in the sense of not being viewed, but in the sense of not being seen. Because once a slaved was seen, their humanity was validated, which, subsequently, led to the slave master feeling the need to dehumanize the slave. So, the slave must mimic the characteristic and desires of the slave master in order to survive. Therefore, the functioning of love has no type of comfortability assigned within its bandwidth.
Understand, love never has to concede its function in order to be comfortable, it just is.
Love is a renegade thought in an immoral, uncivilized society. It absolutely makes no sense why Black people should even consider love as an option within a white supremacist system like America. Violence feels like the best response, but violence yields unmitigated consequences usually equating to social death of some form. Therefore, love re-enters, and consumes the room in its revolutionary posture: strong, vibrant, beautiful and protecting, by any means necessary.
Self-love is the mastery of re-definement in a chaotic system that denies you agency. Simply stated, “it is the will to be great when others have done their best to stop your progress.”
In a world where Blackness is parsed out for commodified gain, self-love becomes the touchstone.
It’s this touchstone of reality which allows for a renewing of joy, everlasting that never ceases. This is not a self-love that is garnered by triumph over white supremacy but one engendered by a cosmic shift in one’s thinking of self and community. Therefore, sustainable self-love must always consider the community from which and in which one communes.
James Baldwin writes, “Something very sinister happens to the people of a country when they begin to distrust their own reactions as deeply as they do here [America], and become joyless as they have become.” White supremacy is never about trust it’s about greed. And greed run amok will always lead to the destruction. In a revolutionary sense, it’s practically impossible to have self-love if you are housed within white supremacy. I m not talking about in the fight against, I am specifically speaking about those who use it like a superpower—slipping in and out of it when they see it as a benefit for greater accommodations. There is no self-love in such an event or space.
Self-love is the mastery of re-definement in a chaotic system and white supremacy is a chaotic system that can’t be re-defined, it can only be destroyed.
Its entire project is to hijack the agency of people in order to oppress and control. Love is never the motive it is simply used as bait to lure the “innocent” within its tentacles.
Self-love is communal, revolutionary and the centerpiece for Blackness to flourish. It seeks to replenish in ways that white supremacy never imagined because white supremacy is not about imagining; it’s about destruction. Blackness lived out in its purest African nature is self-love that transforms.
My father taught me many years ago how to win but, more importantly, how winner’s lose. I had to have this conversation with my 9 year old daughter years during a math competition. Though she placed high in during math competition, there was a child that was steadily crying because she did not place well in order to get an invitation. Because she was crying and everyone was so consoling of her pain, the judge arbitrarily gave her an invitation as well. As I was speaking with my daughter, she said to me, “Daddy, what is the point of having a competition if they are going to give away invitations.” In total agreement with her, I clearly stated that crying is not a problem( we all cry) but it should not be a catalyst for expectations either.
As I ended our conversation, I said,
“We win like champions and lose like champions. “
Therefore, if you do not earn a spot because of the work, then you will not get a spot because of tears. Because children that do not learn how to handle defeat grow into self-entitled adults with no firm idea of discipline.
There comes a time in your life where you have to stop squeezing into spaces that you have outgrown.
Contortion—fitting in— is a dehumanizing rendering of the soul that never bothers to consider whether joy is a viable outcome in the presentation.
In that instance, the only thing that matters is that you are a part of the group. No one is benefitting, neither you or the group. When you can’t come to a space with authenticity, you spiritually and holistically don’t enter the space. What actually happens is that you become a spectator within a participation activity. Therein you can’t receive and no one can receive from you, you are essential just benumbed air within the room.
When I was a young boy we would play this game call the Hokey Pokey. You would sing this song that went something like this: “You put your whole self in, you put your whole self out, that’s what it all about!” See in the Hookey Pookey space authenticity was a key component for participation. The only way you could come to the space was to come with your whole-self.
In a world where authenticity and honesty are a rarity, the need to “fit in” becomes a survival skill. Nevertheless, those who have chosen to stay on the path of being true to themselves will eventually see the fruit of their labor come to pass. I remember when The Roots came out in the early 90’ with Organix. I heard Black Thought on Teen Summit on BET and thought he was one of the premier emcees in Hip Hop. The Roots dropped subsequent albums and he skills continually flamed throughout each album. But, you rarely heard him on other high-profile emcee projects. But Questlove, one of his bandmates in the group ,made a statement that he gathered from a conversation with Jay-Z. Jay-Z told him that most big named rappers would never jump on a track with Black Thought because they knew that they were going to get outshined because Black Thought was such a monster on the mic.
With that said, you still never saw Black Thought contort to fit into a box. He just blew up his box with the ultimate freestyle with Funk Master Flex. After that midnight maraud, he forever cemented his name as one of the premier emcees in the game of Hip Hop.
He stayed authentic and always brought his whole self to the space.
So stay authentic and bring all your dopiness to the space; we need it and you.
Currently, I am reading Don’t Cry For Me by Daniel Black. This is novel about a father who is currently on his death bed journaling or writing letters to his queer/gay son in the form of an apology. It is written with the complexity of the father coming to “grips” with his son’s sexuality. Intentionally, I use that word “grips” in a sense of formation that has reshaped the father’s love. This book is firmly about fatherhood in a radical form. Radical in the root form of going back the basics of the father retrieving or at least trying to retrieve lost time.
It is not the typical how to book, but it is the narration of a father cultivating his love for his son through his cultural awareness of his own failures and success. His intentions from the beginning were well intended but in retrospect they were harmful to the growth of his son. Rather, he approved or disapproved, of his son’s sexuality, it was eventually outmaneuvered by his capacity to love his son’s enfleshment—his sexuality. Ultimately, this is what Dr. Black is getting at through this novel: that fatherhood has the potential to love with no boundaries.
Honestly, the novel is an imaginative critique of masculinity in the shape of fatherhood. What does fatherhood resemble in the lives of men who are broken? What does fatherhood mean in a man who has no concept of tenderness? What is love in a world where sacrifice is considered love? Dr. Black is performing these great “improvisational linguistics” as he tells this beautiful story of Black life transforming Black masculinity.
There is more but I will let you figure it out as you read…