Let it be Rad­i­cal

The McGill Daily - - Contents - Kath­leen Charles Co­coa But­ter

Icame 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, 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.

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