What do you want to be when you grow up? I want you to recall that FIRST BIG DREAM. That moment when something just made ABSOLUTE fucking sense to you. Now imagine an ancestor having that SAME dream in a much different place and time. Let’s say ‘storytelling’ is the thing you shared. Let’s also say that your ancestor couldn’t read. All his (or her) stories are TRAPPED inside of his head. (A whole mess of ‘em too; real hip stuff: He’s got one about a girl who attempts to go back in time to save her father. There’s another one about a free black man who becomes a global megastar). Now things wouldn’t be so bad if he had someone who could read or write to transcribe his stories. Turns out all the others around him are illiterate too1. And even THAT wouldn’t be so bad if he had someone willing to listen. An audience perhaps. But all the others laugh when he starts into one of his yarns. They call his stories ‘crazy,’ ‘impossible,’ ‘foolish.’ So he gives up trying to reach THEM. He decides to just do what he’s always done: amuse himself. Get lost in his internal world; an escape from the torment outside. But that’s not enough, and he knows it. The fact that the world will more than likely NEVER know of him or his stories devastates him some nights. He doesn’t sleep. Just quiet tears and one recurring thought: ‘This CAN’T be IT.’
Okay, just reflect on that for a second.
Done. Cool. Now answer this…
What is YOUR burden? Why can’t YOU become the storyteller he DREAMED of becoming? Are you beset with the same obstacles as him?
Can you read? Write? Do you have access to tools that allow you to exploit these abilities? Do you have a network of friends and family with access to similar resources? These aren’t rhetorical questions. I want YOU to answer them…TO HIM!!!!! (or HER!!!!!) Look him in the eye and tell him your situation is not that far removed from his………and watch him laugh in your silly-ass face.
Could you imagine the 85,000 word diatribe against YOUR privilege HE could write?! It would be brutal. I could only imagine. I mean literally—that’s ALL I can do. Imagine. Wonder about it. Well, I take that back—I’m here. I’m telling HIS stories. His blood flows through my veins. He’s TALKING to me right now. He and everybody else. And for some reason they keep imploring me NOT to talk about the depressing dreams-deferred stuff. Apparently, they believe they can STILL live their dreams…through us.
We’re underprivileged, at the mercy of White Supremacy™. There is NO way we can honor their wishes. Besides, they’ve been dead for a long-ass time. They’re not in front of our faces RIGHT NOW. Arrogant white folks are. We SEE them, not the struggle of our ancestors. Not the real day-to-fucking-day grind they endured. The this-is-just-the-way-it-was-is-and-will-always-be grind.
Damn it. They’re laughing again. They’re ALWAYS laughing! They just don’t get why I haven’t made that big bold move yet. Baffled as to what is holding me back…I point to my FB feed. Show ’em all the glorious racism.
Fuck guys, We have it hard! Stop laughing. Look, we don’t KNOW you’re struggle. It’s not our fault we were born NOW. We can’t relate to what happened THEN. We’re mad about it though. Mad as hell. We’re always asking for reparations for you for us. And we’ll get them. Just you watch. THEN we’ll do ALL that stuff you dreamed of. Please don’t undermine our struggle though, it is VERY real! We have it hard…too. I’m not gonna apologize for my—
Now they’re in hysterics. Slappin’ knees, tears—the whole nine. So damn rude. I can even hear one say, “Look at him tryin’ to make excuses for his privilege! You NEW niggas are somethin’ else, I tell ya. You do know we would have taken over the whole world if we had access to just HALF of what y’all have today, right?”
It’s easy to say that NOW, after all these years, but how come you DIDN’T DO ANYTHING initially? When you were at fucking home????!!!!! Why am I even HERE? Why do I even have to deal with ANY kind of ‘race’ shit. Why didn’t you fight???!!!!!!!!!
“Same reason you won’t. I couldn’t see past my situation, but I KNEW—I mean deep-down KNEW my blood would see new days on this land. BETTER days. You need to stop acting like that LIFE I gave you ain’t shit. It is a testament to what’s possible. I stuck it out, through ALL this bullshit for YOU!!! Me an’ MANY of your Mamas and Daddies. Y’all need to stop SLEEPING on that part of this shit!!!! If it wasn’t for us you ‘brand new’ muthafuckas wouldn’t even be here to talk about ‘micro-aggressions’ an’ seventy-nine-dollar hair goo. I’m not mad, I’m just sayin’ y’all need to respect that. Your LIFE means more than any PERCEIVED advantage some other joker may have!!!!!!! So go get ’em nephew, and don’t look back; I’ll be here. We’ll all be here. We got you. Truth be told, I personally got a A LOT riding on you. We bet on y’all niggas up here. That Oprah gal netted ol’ Fish Water a cool million new souls to watch over2. NOBODY saw that one coming. She had all kinda odds stacked against her. Well, let me get back to talkin’ shit about y’all with the family. I LOVE you. NEVER forget that.”
We gotta lean on the wisdom they gave us. We’re dope BECAUSE of them. Some of these cats had some CRAZY-ass dreams. So crazy that we’re JUST NOW coming around to even UNDERSTANDING them, actualizing them. THEY already did the hard work FOR us. They learned the way-of-the-land here and helped to CREATE the way-of-the-land here; fast-as-hell I might add. So fast that WE, their descendants, have become VERY MUCH American. No matter how hard we try to shake it, it won’t go away…and that is the divinely fucked up part about all of this. Perhaps we are less African American and more Africans Who Taught Themselves To Be Americans. Our patriotism is as real as this land. This United experiment has taken countless lives. Gallons upon gallons of blood have been spilled (both black and white) to see this absurd hypothesis through: Is stark-contrast coexistence possible? Why would we want to give up now? Every last one of us has a stake in this. We can make the impossible real. FUCK! We ALREADY do this shit. We just have to do it BIGGER! BOLDER!
You probably think I’m crazy, but this stuff is REAL to me. A lot of the stuff I write just comes to me when I’m staring off, wondering. Very little ‘thinking’ is involved. Like I said, the work has been done already. And no, I’m not special…they talk to all of us. They’re ‘talking’ in our faces, our eyes, our hands, our blood, our brains. And this ain’t no new-agey jive neither, everything that we are is everything that they were and everything that they were was everything that the ones who came before them were and so on and so forth all the way back to…… Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……
1. I am well aware that the image of American slavery I presented here is simplistic and that things were actually a little more nuanced. I decided to go with this narrative because it is the one that is most often used as THE reason why Black People Can’t Get Ahead In America™.↩
2. What if in the after life you become a soul protector? Totally different from guardian angel. SPs are not concerned with saving lives, only maintaining a healthy balance within our infinite souls. Honestly, I think this ‘job’ is the mailroom of the after life. Oh, and I don’t think there is anything BELOW mailroom. I think the biggest ‘punishment’ you can receive is having only 1 soul to watch over. Wait a minute. Wait one damn minute. That’s what THIS shit is!!!↩