Culture  Let It Be Radical

Cocoa Butter Column

I came here, following in my sister’s footsteps, to a land of diversity
Or so they told me
From white snow to white skin, I felt myself drowning in the absence of myself here
I sought the warm refuge of sisterhood as medicine to a soul aching for home
And found bonds so loving they overflow and pour the love back into me on the daily
The kind of people who call you to make sure you ate that day
The kind of people who send you memes just to make sure you’re okay
My people. My love for you is stronger than words can express
And yes. I know you’ll be late to the event, but I don’t care. I just want to see you there
And love on you, hug on you, laugh, and cackle till we cry. I don’t know if it’s possible to have multiple ride-or-dies
But I know I do
In the midst of a microaggressive Caucasian sea
Where people believe that Introduction to African Studies is their introduction to me
I’m always relieved
To know that at the end of it all, when I’m with you, I’m not a stereotype
I can just be.
You keep me sane.
The way we write entire odysseys with our facial expressions
And recreate the thunderous thigh-slapping laughter of our elders
We build ourselves a network of Black joy for protection
In a world that has taught us that we have nothing to rejoice over,
We rejoice over everything anyway.
But I wonder why when I see Black joy, some see Black radicalism
Why is this love I have for my Blackness and Black people considered reverse racism?
As if an assembly of too many of our smiles in the dark somehow became blinding
As if an assembly of too many Black bodies making joyful noise somehow called for sirens
What do you mean I’m too radical because I’m always around people who look like me?
What do you mean I’m always talking about race when race is the lens through which you see me?
Why is it that my love for Black is seen as hate for white when we all know that lovers of the night could never dismiss the brightness of daylight.
I say, let it be radical. If anti-oppression organizing makes someone uncomfortable,
Let it be radical
If healing safe spaces for those longing to be seen seems unreasonable,
Let it be radical
If a Black person cries for community in a sea of milk… did, they make a sound?
If you’re walking through a campus where you never see yourself, do you even exist?
If you find a space where you can stop acting and finally begin breathing, do you call that radical,
Or magical?
There’s nothing radical about the kindness in kindred community, nothing radical about our unity
Nothing radical about our strife for life and deserved equality
Nothing radical about communities of love
I smile at my sisters so they know they’re seen
When I see Black queens being crowned with degrees it’s my job to lift them up because those wins are never advertised on TV screens
I have nothing but love for our culture
For so long we’ve been divided and conquered, too scared to come together for fear of being seen as a threat
So we starve ourselves of each other
And silently suffer
Culture may be important for everyone, but when your culture is constantly politicized and scrutinized for threats by society, activism becomes ingrained in your songs, dances, social gatherings; the secret seasoning to your soul food
Activism and political warfare becomes a part of a cultural reality you can’t escape
Our Black community isn’t perfect.
Name one community that is.
But when we give to each other we expect nothing in return
When we love each other we keep the love coming strong
We love by default
We support by default
We give away Black discounts
We vote for Black presidents without question because like shooting stars that shit is a once in a lifetime occurrence
So we hold on to it; starved and thirsting for peace for so long, we latch on to it
We hold on to the beauty in Black
But, I’ll say it again for the people in the back: If you see me smiling and loving on my brothers and sisters… don’t be mad.
We will love each other radically for no reason.
We will stand for each other, protect each other, dance with each other in tribal circles to afrobeats and dance hall, kompa, zouk, clappin’ hands, jookin’, all into the night, being loud for no reason
We’ll make joyful noise in the face of erroneous perceptions, bogus misconceptions
But don’t get me wrong: Momma raised me right
So you’re welcome to the party tonight
But I’ll warn you
It’s a Black party… so it’ll be radical.