Black Said to the Handyman: Don’t Fence Me In
From this post:
“People allow a lot of vagueness, as if what blackness is is understood; its not understood, if it ever was and it must be restated explicitly and repeatedly. Without stating what black is, positing where we should be going, folks can and do excommunicate black folks from the race, out of their own idiocy, for not meeting some phantom, half-baked ideas about race, rooted in insecurity/inferiority.” The FreeSlave
B.Medusa’s retort: “the problem w/ this [to me] is that this leads right back to “authentic blackness”, i.e. whatever falls outside the realm of what isn’t explicitly stated – what black is, where we should be going (& within that how we should be getting there) – isn’t “really” black. someone/some group still gets to define “what is black.” will they include anti-heirarchical structure, atheism, or calling out misogny practiced by woc; if those things aren’t in the place they are coming from? aren’t those of us who want to get rid of “the pie” in conflict w/ those who want a piece of it, or those who want a different flava pie?
regarding the vagueness, i think the problem is our human tendency to want things neatly boxed before we think about thinking outside the box (this would be me too).”
I say AMEN, to that! BIGTIME!!
Blackness is not a shoebox, it is all-encompassing; blackness incorporates and welcomes all who claim it. But some of us, in order to feel, safe, comfortable, strong, secure, demand less freedom and more restriction. All under the banner of “authenticity.” Erich Fromm talks about how many, “Escape From Freedom,” through rigidity of thought and action. They prefer slavery to a dictator (internal or external), rather than the responsibility of “positive freedom.”
Where we are as black people and whether, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, we are prepared to grow and adapt or stay stuck in outdated modes of thought and behavior – are questions in need of answers.
I was reading this book on jazz today, “Blue: The Murder of Jazz”:
“Miles Davis would often talk about taking a musician who was comfortable playing in a certain context and putting him in a very different musical situation in which he was pushed to eschew his easy licks and cliches and discover fresh ideas from parts of his mind and soul previously unexplored…”
We beat each other up with these easy licks, these cliches” that were spoonfed us by the oppressor.Accidentally. We become the apprentice-oppressor. We don’t even know we’re doing it, we’re so programed in hierarchy and the art of the putdown. We’re divided and then try to conquer each other with our super-militance, super black foolishness.
The beauty and strength of blackness, to me, (and I have to credit B. Medusa for reminding me of this) is our great variety, our numerous, creative/non-creative, funky, ordinary ways of being. Blackness is, to quote George Clinton, ”
So wide can’t get around it
So low you can’t get under it
So high you can’t get over it
HIGH you can’t get over IT
One of the interesting currents in jazz history is that one generation’s revolutionaries, often become the next generation’s conservatives. Louis Armstrong was a revolutionary figure in jazz in the 20’s and 30’s, yet, he despised the next movement – bebop – that he created.
When we talk in cliches, we are likely thinking in cliches. If our heads are mired in the cliched past, how can those thoughts lead us to an evolved future?
When we can accept ourselves and each other as the imperfectly black people that we are – we will have grown into a mature people. But we’re a LONG way from there. When we can see the ways in which we hurt each other and own those lashings and those hurts…ditto. When we can disagree with each other without excommunicating each other from the race…then we will have come nearer to what we once were…great.