Lately I have been feeling really proud about how black people have been standing in their truths while using new technologies of social media to resist the violent knowledges, fashions, bodies, and “opportunities” of dominant cultures. In the past, I never understood why someone would say, “I am black and proud” in the same way I wouldn’t say “I am a man and proud” or “I am a human and proud.” Now, however, I do understand.
My travels abroad have raised my consciousness about my blackness, leaving me empowered and powerful. This, for instance, happens in moments when I see a black person in a “non-black” foreign country or inside an airport and they look at me. The look is one that another black person can understand. It’s an unspoken communication that says, “I know you are black and I love seeing you in this space.” The communication is a type of global blackness that has survived strategies that terrorized black culture and people.
Surviving this terrorism as it labored, blackness wept, endured, and cultivated a distinguished survival component that defines and unites the black diaspora: LOVE–global love for other black people who know how to survive. When this love connects in foreign spaces, blackness waves at each other, smiles, or says Hi. Sometimes they just quickly gaze, but the love touches both passersby.
For instance, today, two men stopped me in the street of Santo Domingo and said, “I am Haitian. Are you from America?” They shook my hands while I answered, “Yes.” They smiled. Immediately, we began chatting like old pals. Global love gave us permission to be familiar without abusing the familiarity. The men gave me their account about the current racial tensions in the Dominican Republic. What seemed clear from their account was that Haitians are a persecuted race in the Dominican Republic, always under scrutiny based on the quality of their attire and how they speak.
And two weeks ago in Mexico City while I was on a tour of the pyramids, I saw a dark skin Mexican boy at one of the pyramids. His mother came over to me and asked if I could take a picture with her son. It made my day. The boy then took my hand, examined my tattoos, and shyly laughed. Simple things like these two encounters have been creating the memories that will keep me alive.
Yes, some persons correctly say that race—blackness—is a social construct. I agree. But I must add that this construction is now an existing architecture—a reality: psychological, cultural, economical, political, and physical reality. Given the diversities of this reality, blackness matters in multiple ways to me.
Blackness is being in love with an untamable, radical, passion. It is a deep joy, knowing that I am a part of a genealogy that has given me certain linguistics, body languages, dead and living bodies, and psychologies that transcend geographies. Importantly, blackness is a tradition that affirms itself through global, Diasporic, love.
Indeed, there is no perfect story in this reality of blackness. Yet, I feel the need in this moment just to celebrate blackness, black identity, black bodies, black movements, black activisms, black solidarities, and black affirmation. My celebration provides no room for critics, doubters, and logicians. Room only exists for people who feel the language I am trying to acknowledge. (You cannot feel if you don’t have the gift of feeling.) It is a living language because it carries the weight of joy in identity, history, and community–and it speaks from the emotional, psychological, and delivered zones of consciousness.
I really love black people because I know they love me too.