It’s important that you know how we got to this place. You may wonder, especially, why my generation didn’t do more to protect you. So much has happened; so much has been hidden.
Perhaps we let down our guard.
There were times when we imagined some jujitsu was possible. We wanted to believe there was some arsenal of magic moves that would flip the lies about who were were on their heads, would help us see our ways to becoming whole, would let us each stand or fall on our own merit – not as exemplars or exceptions to a race despised. But the tools we hoped would deepen our trust too often made the distrust stronger. And the knowledge we wished to share was too often ignored or derided.
And when we folded in upon ourselves, we found our internal spaces denuded – strip-mined by those seeking plunder and control at scale.
Still, Sister Sonia sang,
“But we held out our eyes, delirious with grace…”
And Sweet Honey told us to “stay on the battlefield…”
What choice, after all, did we have? Where was there, at long last, to flee? Since our forbears were dragged here, every generation has fled to somewhere where the knowledge passed on by the generation before was unavailing, forcing us to improvise on stages never meant for us. The lighting was always too harsh, the makeup garish, the sound system was always calibrated to some other vocal register. They loved our culture, it was said, but they didn’t love us.
This is why we still read Zora, to remind us that, “Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more of less.”
And despite all that has happened, and will happen, I still believe we are strongest when we hold on to the truth and lead with love.