Tag Archives: life

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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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.

I Ni Ce!

I ni ce! I ni ce means “hello” in the  Bambara language of Africa, spoken primarily by Malians (people of Mali). My paternal family that was enslaved and brought to Roseau, Dominica in the West Indies comes from Mali. Many people from Dominica (the original name of the  isle being Wai’tukubuli’ meaning “long is her body” in Kalinago” come from Mali, Guinea and Senegal in West Africa.
Since deciding to legally change my slave name to Nomolanga Achieng Eksenwe and my son’s French name to Chilongola Masego Eksenwe, I’ve begun to learn more about the rich history of Mali from the Mali Empire to present day traditions and customs. I know I cannot continue the African legacy of my ancestors “Davis and Celestine” without acquiring the knowledge to teach myself and my son Malian culture including the Bambara language, which is surprisingly easy to learn.

Just as Chinese-Canadians or Indian-Canadians practice some cultural aspects of their native heritage (as well as aspects of Western culture, inevitably); I too, want to teach my son about the rich ancient history of Africa from Menes and Thebes to Queen Candace of Ethiopia and Queen Tye.

   My family has ridiculed me about my newfound Black consciousness which begun ironically, in a rural White town I moved to where I clung to a wise, white Rastafarian woman with boundless knowledge of African and Black culture as well as four, beautiful Black Rastafarian children she has that are homeschooled and taught real Black history and critical thinking. It was her who lent me books on ancient Africa and encouraged me to change stubborn Westernized views about myself and my people. In the process, though I have much to learn, I have learned to be even prouder of being African.

   With the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, which, with a Black son, has sparked my interest and who I hold solidarity with, I began to read the works of Angela Y. Davis, Assata Shakur, Huey P. Newton, bell hooks, Frederick Douglass and others. This furthered my knowledge in racism and sexism and also helped me to see that my people are not just oppressed and without hope. We have fought long and hard since we were removed from Mother Africa. We did not readily accept slavery, we brave men and women and we continue to fight oppression and systemic racism today. So, I say, hello, to all my African brothers and sisters and to all our brothers and sisters because we are of one race: the human race. Unity and peace is what I strive the world, and self-acceptance and self-love of my Blackness is what I strive for in this blog.

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