Black Joy

Living in a small, white racist town has really made me contain my joy. Anytime, I leave my house–it’s usually with a screw face as I encounter beat up jeeps with Confederation flags and creepy white men staring at me in dark shades with fatigue-print caps on. Wherever I go, people stare. I’m not from ’round here. But guess what? I’m here and I’m about to reclaim my ability to express the natural emotion of happiness and joy.

I experience joy when I see (and especially if I get to meet) other Black people in my town, or wherever I happen to be. A  nod of acknowledgment or a “good morning” can set a sista on a brightened journey. No lie. I love when I feel my hair is doing all the talking for me when my lips are too fed up. Unapologetic, KINKY coily hair is beautiful ART.  I feel this so confidently that I feel joyous even in a mediocre hairdo. I experience joy when I maintain class, grace, humility, patience in any situation. I feel my best self emerging and growing. This brings me joy. It brings me joy to walk with a group of Black children, one of them usually being my own. It brings me joy to see my son being himself–wild, coily hair out proud and everything!

It brings me joy to exclusively date Black men and have nothing but loyalty, respect and openness with them. It brings me  joy to be treated like a queen by a Black man–privately and publicly. It brings me joy to view, touch and caress melanated skin. This is almost like therapy! It brings me joy to catch a joke in Patois from my grandma, or to piss the neighbours off when I’m burning my browning before I cook stew or curry (it’s not my fault I use…flavour). It also brings me joy to share a plate of curry with my neighbours, and show them that yes–Black people do care about recycling and putting out the right decorations at the right time of the year. *roll of eyes*

I’ve lost my ability to conceal my joy because I’m expected to be a caricature of suffering and hostility. I find myself grinning, beaming and letting the excitement enter my voice wherever I am. I’m able to let the light shine in my eyes when I’m truly appeased, laugh at myself at the ice rink or the store and stand with my head and my uniquely beautiful coily hair tall. If you want a disgruntled, angry Black female–that isn’t going to be me. I’ve got too much joy because every day I wake up feeling blessed! I’m not going to let someone decide there is no space for happy, carefree Black people. I’m coming for that space, and it’s going to be a magical space. 3

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Our Own Culture

Last night, I was Googling reviews for random baby products like co-sleepers, baby carriers and high chairs. The fact baby carriers like Ergo and Beco originate from African mothers carrying their children on their back in cloth fabric–I didn’t see even one Black family on any of my Google searches. I didn’t see one, cute little chocolate baby featured on any of the baby clothing websites I checked out locally in my city, nation-wide and then Internet-wide. After an exhaustive search, I did see a cute Black tot wearing an adorable onesie on Mini Mioche. Why weren’t Black children being featured in other ads like Minimoc and Wee Woolies–two brands I adore?

I realized when I noticed the designs–woodland creatures, fairies and mute geometric shapes on neutral colours–that this is their visual of childhood style. And it probably ties in with their own Irish, German, British, etc folklore. When you buy organic, wooden Waldorf toys for your child–you will get white fairies and white gnomes. I thought infancy and childhood should really be the same for every child, but these companies don’t. They are catering to white families. Good for them!

We need not be disheartened. Black culture is growing, growing, growing like a baby in utero! I made a list of Black-owned businesses selling everything I was looking for from organic wooden toys to moccasins and came up with a long, long list and similar prices–but with our own culture stamped right in it. Kente print, mudcloth, dashikis–you name it–and there they were. Bamboo toys from Africa–even African-print cloth diapers! It was difficult to find a Black-owned baby carrier company, but Boba did offer African-inspired prints (for a limited time) for their wraps. I’ve seen mothers customize their regular baby carriers with African print cloth so really, we just need to do what we’ve been doing. Being creative, innovative and sticking to our culture because there’s no reason to sidestep it for unicorns and moose when we have most beautiful, ancient  continent in the world as our origin!

African Relations with the Diaspora

We, as Black people, can only reach liberation by uniting. Colourism, tribal feuds and classism are only some of the things that are dividing us and having some Black people look down their nose at others.

I read some comments on a Naija forum about Africans studying abroad feeling horror when associated with Black Americans. To be honest,  I have never met a Black American.  I’m a Canadian- born woman with parents from the Caribbean.

Some of the viewpoints of Africans in the Motherland is that we are ignorant,  no-good Blacks whose history started with slavery and we think we are better than Africans because of our citizenship. We are all gangbangers and welfare recipients who can’t get out of poverty because we are lazy.

Meanwhile,  many people  (including  myself) in the Diaspora was taught to believe Africa is a place of cannibalistic savages, extreme poverty and sexism with high rates of female illiteracy, and the home of The Lion King. We considered ourselves superior and some of us even mocked thick African accents and incomprehensible names to our subjugated minds.

However,  the truth is, Blacks in the Diaspora originated from Africa. We are your sisters and brothers taken from your village, your country, your continent.  There is no need to look down on us because some of us don’t have the same drive to success as Contintental Africans. There is no need for us to look down on you for what we may consider to be less civilized ways of living.

We need a better future for Black people everywhere- -from Tokyo to London to Accra. We need to stop listening to this divisive stereotypes and embrace each other.  Africans are not taught the history of the Diaspora,  and we are not taught the history of Africa. Both histories are integrated and the only way to stop the African- Diasporan divide is to have dialogue and find out similarities.  The Diasporan community has an obligation to learn about African culture and history and values,  politics, art, literature- -everything.  And Africans would be wise to see a powerful ally if they could just empathize and realize that we need each other because we ARE each other  .

Marry the Plain Guy

Everybody wants a Jay to their Bey. I do get the glam and glitz of having beautiful life partners. Who doesn’t want to wake up to a well-muscled, perfectly-oiled moustached 6″3 chocolate hunk? Maybe it’s the affluent, well-connected lawyer who is charming and smells of fresh money from the bank machine (how come nobody made that smell into a cologne yet?) that has you screaming “wedding bells”. There’s the fine ass brother, who is so obviously a bachelor for life that he has scented lotions and pink slippers ready for you when you come to his pad. And there’s the awkward, maybe not the cutest but not the worst-looking, super sweet normal dude who probably works at IT or knows exactly how to put together IKEA furniture….without the instruction guide.

Choose the awkward dude. For real. He may not make the rounds with a fifty-watt smile at parties, but you won’t have to worry that he’s got his phone on Airplane Mode so you won’t hear his other three side chicks texting, WhatsApping and Facebook Messaging his ass. Unlike the stylish dudes onto every new trend–hoping the girls will follow the trail of Jordans and new fusion restaurants–awkward dude probably has his will written and paid off his college debt. The classy lawyer in Tom Ford cologne might call you up for a booty call, but awkward guy feels no qualms about texting you back right away because he truly wants to talk to you–and not just get in your pencil skirt. The smooth-talking bachelor might hint at marriage to lure you along, but awkward dude will likely be the one who is planning to get down on one knee–instead of tricking you into getting you onto your knees. Choose the awkward dude.

This blog is called ‘ConsciousBlackQueen’. I’m 100% for Black love, but I also believe Black women have been down in the dumps when it comes to marriage and we deserve love–in whatever colour or shade it happens to be. If your hellbent on a chocolate brother, but the brothers are not commiting–and you got yourself a white man who is willing to commit to you…shoot, get that ring, girl. And brothers, don’t lose out on a quality girl because she’s not all the 100 things on your checklist you need her to be–a perfectly Instagrammable wife. Get yourself a real girl, with real flaws, because I’m certain God made you with flaws as well. And ladies, forget the flashy cars and expensive shoes. Is he faithful? Can you trust him? Does this n—- text back?!

Create or Compound?

I have lived in a small, rural white town east of Toronto  (I’m from Toronto )  for the past 2 years. It is not easy as a Black woman living here. It is so bad racially that I have made a decision to homeschool my son .  I also started a POC and Indigenous Peoples Homeschool Co-op that already has 4 families and 10 children .  Is it better to create a Black inclusive community in a white town or just stay in your diverse city?

I noticed that I keep seeing more Black families in town. If there are places for them to congregate, it would make it easier to connect .  Something like a POC Meet Up. The university is what draws a lot of professional Black families here.  Refugees bring some ,  and others like me migrate here because cities like Toronto ,  Vancouver and Montreal are too expensive .

Politically, I’m a liberal ,  progressive feminist and fiercely pro-Black. Kingston is a good fit for Black conservatives who make good money, want to send their kids to “good” schools and sacrifice their Black identity in the meantime .  I’m not particularly excited to meet these types, and they seem bewildered (embarrassed ? ) to see me too.

Establishing Black roots in a predominantly White town can seem fruitless at first. You never know who you’ll be connecting or what solace you are providing to an isolated Black person or family by simply organizing .

There probably won’t be Jamaican patties and barbershops blasting soca anytime soon here, but a place to feel at home is what everyone deserves .

Fear.

When you choose to be unapologetically Black ,  it shouldn’t be on a when-I-feel-like basis. You know ,  with one foot in the Eurocentric Starbucks and straighteners world; and the other raising a fist with your printed turban made ethically in Namibia. The thing is, once you stare racism in the face, you realize you are stronger than you thought.  You ask, really, is that it?

And of course,  we shouldn’t have to deal with discrimination and have our warrior shield on 24/7. But being charged higher car insurance in a Black neighbourhood,  getting stopped by police yet not having police assist or side with you when you need help , and being told “Go back to Africa, you f—– n—–r” are part of the parcel of being melanated,  at least while white supremacy is still the order of the day.

I’m not saying we should accept abuse, ostracism and blatant racial harassment and profiling .  I’m saying we need to be fearless .  We need to be strong. Because white supremacy is fear, hatred and evilness wrapped in a white suburban house with a picket fence and a little Retriever in the front. It’s in every institution that was not created by and for Black people .

 

And until we can put away our armour for good, we must not fear.

Religion vs Revolution

I joined a church this summer after being invited by my Kenyan hair braider. She is in fire for the Lord, and I only went because we live in a racist, rural town and I was desperate to see Black faces. There were Black children for my son to interact with, and not only were the pews filled with Kente cloth and dashiki-clad families, the pastor was Jamaican.

I’m from a Christian family, like most West Indians but as an adult I am highly critical of the church and it’s role in maintaining Black oppression. The church could be a revolutionary place. But instead of touching on freedom from white supremacy, it only speaks of a better life in Heaven…not on this earth. Great way to pacify the masses, pastor.

However, in the church there is Black pride. There are more married Black families and college students. There are more natural hairdos. There is more respect for one another. So I do not dismiss the church as a place for revolutionary work. Perhaps you can meet a compatriot there, a future spouse or an acquaintance who furthers your economic growth. And if not, it never hurts to have God on your side!