You Can’t Enslave Me

As one of the few black men in doctoral programs in the United States, I don’t have the luxury to not talk about race. I refuse to be another person of color who has entered a traditionally white space, and then become selfish and forget that there is a struggle for and against my black body.

My goal is to resist white institutionalism, to ensure people of color are always aware of its threats. (Thanks to Donald Sterling for reminding me the struggle must continue! I had went through a period of denial about the extent of racism).

If my outspokenness denies me access to white privilege, then so let it be. We all can’t wear suits and ties to attend ballrooms in skyscrapers. There are enough people of color around who entered privileged spaces and have become silent to maintain economic relevance.

I won’t knock them. We need those kinds of people as well. We are at war against racism. We need spies, covert operators, and people with access all over. But I’m not the kind who takes the undercover role. I’m out and loud! In my heart, I am rebellious, law breaking, norm evading. I won’t be controlled.

“I am a dragon,” I must chant to myself sometimes to stay alive with consciousness. “You can’t enslave me.”

But even if you successfully do it temporarily, I will always know I have fire. “I cling to my fire. I cherish my fire. I breathe fire. Fire is my DNA.”

Without its heat waking me everyday, I sometimes wonder “Where is Dadland? Is he sad today? Is he lonely this morning?”

“Where is your fire?” You should say to those who try to pour water on yours.

I’m tired of seeing people of color suffer. But Oh, how it frightens me when people of color take on the soul and sound of silence to survive!

Where is our fire? I often wonder.

Our lack of resistance counters the very essence of Audrey Lorde’s wisdom in her dying days when she said, what she regretted most were the times she had been silent. “Your silence will not protect you,” Sister Lorde said. She is right right right.

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