For The Love of Black
I am most critical in my assessments of that which I love. Why waste the energy if not in the desire to make something better. As we come to the end of Black History Month, and my at times critical gaze on my community, I thought it fitting to end with a love letter.
I have said it before and I will say it again: I love what makes me; the bequeathals of the Arawak, Caribs, Maroons and Spaniards, the vestiges of the African and Jew, and even the hint of Scott and Irish – though we won’t talk about how they got into the mix. With the history we have, no one can make me bow my head.
What marked us for the boats was not our weakness, but our strength. The strongest of steal is forged by the hottest of fires; we were tempered in the fires of hell. Taken to lands we did not know existed and given scraps for sustenance, we toiled their soil, played their game, but retained our soul.
Yes, we were slaves. Long before that, we were nation builders. While they have put their names to our thoughts, creations, and labour, we know the truth. They fear us because they worry we will take it back. Little do they know, if they but get out of our way, we will make it better – again.
As we continue in our struggle, we must affirm that whiteness is not our enemy. It is a construct of privilege, and it is privilege that we must defeat. We were all created equal, and equally shall we be judged. This is not a fire to be met with fire. If we trade our souls to defeat the devil, we too shall be lost.
No, the best way to cripple the devil is to smile serenely while rejecting its offering, to dance and sing out hosanna when it would cripple with whispered words of despair, and to take into our hearts all those it would have us hate. Hate is a cancer; forgiveness and love its only cure. Forgiveness is not acceptance, and love, of self-included, is preserver.
Scientists have left us no doubt; Black women carry proof in their blood that we are the originators, and that all are the sons and daughters of EVE. Now nature speaks and tells us we must come together to live as one family or we will surly perish as one.
As my last words for the month, I want to lean on those of another. I attended a workshop once, and was asked, “When it comes to happiness, in comparison to others, on a scale of 1-10, where would you place yourself?” At the time I put myself at a comfortable and even 5.
I came across the notes from that workshop a few years later, and thought about it again. I was surprised to realise that, when not in one of my dark places, I would place myself at a 9. I began to wonder why that was, given some of the stuff I go through, get myself involved in, and choose to fight.
I realised it was how I defined happiness and in particular how I defined success. My definition does not allow for others to limit me, so my trials and tribulations only lend to my sense of success. Here are the words I adopted long ago, that have served as my guide and my measure:
What is Success?
To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
to know even one life has breathed easier
because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
This poem is most often attributed to Emerson. In fact, it is believed that the original poem was written by Bessie Stanley, though the words have been altered by time. http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/Philosophy/Sui-Generis/Emerson/success.htm