"sex is a sacred exchange, an energy trade. be careful who u share your space with, don’t sleep with the devil expecting to wake up in heaven"- Overlyxclusive (via kushandwizdom)
I didn’t just write this post to say how much Adichie opened my eyes. One of Ifemelu’s posts related to my own experiences at Trinity. In a post labeled “Friendly Tips for the American Non-Black: How to React to an American Black Talking About Blackness,” she ends by saying:
“So after this listing of don’ts, what’s the do? I’m not sure. Try listening, maybe. Hear what is being said…Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Here’s to possibilities of friendship and connection and understanding.” (pg 328)
One person from the African continent who I got to know at Trinity (I would never call her an acquaintance, let alone a friend, so ‘got to know at Trinity’ will have to do) never did this with me. She did it with another American Black who is from the South. Finally looking back on my college experience, one day last month I thought to myself, what was with her contempt for me? Maybe because I am from the North and I know where some of my ancestors come from, so I’m not an American Black worth getting to know? Bullshit. I only know where some of my ancestors come from. I have ancestors who are slaves. Do not think that only Southern Blacks know what it’s like to be Black in America. Every American Black in every part of this country has their own experiences. Every day, when my brother was growing up, my mother used to fear for his life if he was out after dark. Why? Because he is Black. The NYPD could have shot him if they wanted, and make up some excuse like “Well, we thought he was selling drugs on that corner.” Or some white teen could have taunted and killed him, like Yusuf Hawkins, who was killed 25 years ago this month – all he was doing was looking at used cars in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. And look at me – a black woman. I am at the bottom of the totem pole in this country because I have race, gender and class against me. It’s tough. It is part of the reason why I have decided to get a masters degree fresh out of undergrad so I can compete on the White man’s level (hopefully).
Now I will admit: there are nuances between Blacks in different parts of this country. However, Whites don’t care if you’re from the North, South, East, West, or center. When they first see you, they only see your blackness.
Even as I write this post, I still struggle to see – what’s with the hate? Are we not all sisters and brothers? Are we not all human? Perhaps she had other reasons to dislike me, and quite frankly, I don’t really give a flying fuck about it now. Maybe one day she’ll see. Maybe she already sees and is too insecure to admit it. Oh well. The point is, there shouldn’t be a divide among the Blacks of the world. Why can’t we share our experiences with one another, instead of saying “Well, I’m African,” or, “I’m (insert West Indian country here), not Black,” or “You’re from the North, so you don’t get it,” or “Well, I’m mixed.” Who cares? We’re all human beings. Stop trying to divide people and stop making alliances with Blacks whom you deem ‘worthy.’ I’ll repeat Adichie’s words: “Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Here’s to possibilities of friendship and connection and understanding.” Let’s stop putting people into boxes and unite.
P.S. what if I decided to move back to Cape Town and write a blog about Black Africans there, and how they interact with Coloureds, Indians and Whites? I was there for six months, so I already have a little background knowledge. I wonder if they’d like it or try to put me on the next plane to JFK lol!
P.P.S. Ifemelu always talks about how Blacks are always at the bottom: but to every White man’s dollar, White women earn something in the $0.70 range, Black women earn something in the $0.60 range, and Hispanic women earn something in the $0.50 range. How confusing is that?
P.P.P.S. “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak of the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and the same judgment…Now I say this, that each of you that says ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” I Corinthians 10 and 12-13 (NKJV)
“…For where there are envy, strife and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” I Corinthians 3:3 (NKJV)
Usually, I focus my blog posts on events that happened to me at Trinity, usually involving boys and social events. Today, I felt the urge to write something different, inspired by a book I recently read.
This summer, I’ve been on a reading binge. It feels so good to be absorbed into other people’s worlds while you’re still trying to figure out your own (not only am I trying to figure out my place in the world, I’m also trying to figure out how I’m going to pay for graduate school. Higher education in this country is unfairly expensive, and I don’t get a big fat Trinity grant or a Pell grant like I used too. Sigh. #AmericanHigherEducationProblems). Anyway, I digress. I’ve read six books from June to now, the latest being Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I read Purple Hibiscus, her first novel, a while ago (I re-read it this summer) (and yes, I read it before ***Flawless came out), but this summer I finally read Half of a Yellow Sun and this book (I plan on reading her short story collection later this year). The characters are intriguing and the plot is pretty good.
The thing that got me, was that the main character, Ifemelu, who is Nigerian, writes a blog on American Blacks (a brief synopsis: she comes to America to finish her education, then eventually settles in Maryland. I won’t tell too much else). At first, I thought to myself “Chimamanda must be trippin’.” How on earth would she know anything about American Blacks and our experiences?
However, as she put it to another character, Blaine, “I don’t want to explain, I want to observe.” And she does this brilliantly, in my opinion. Ifemelu’s (or should I say Adichie’s?) ‘blog posts’ truly made me think about the way race in constructed in this country, and how we automatically assume that everyone else in the world just gets our complicated (and stupid) racial hierarchy. It doesn’t work that way. It’s quite convoluted, and Ifemelu’s posts show that. Race is something that is persistently brought up in our country, but where she comes from, race was never an issue. She was always Ifemelu, not Ifemelu, that black girl. America is not as simple as it seems. We just like to make it seem like we’re simple. Actually, scratch that. Being a staunch liberal, I will criticize this country in a heartbeat (refer back to the second paragraph where I digressed into the absurd prices of American higher education).
If a Non-American Black reads this up to this point and scoffs at my revelation, I say to you: sometimes you don’t realize the situation you’re in until you read about it from a foreigner’s perspective, someone tells you or you place yourself out of the situation. Ever fell in love with someone who your friends told you was no good, but you didn’t believe them? Yeah, it’s a similar situation. You look back on it and say, “Damn…he really was an idiot!” OK. I’m getting too personal. Whoops.