Let it be Radical
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.