I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.
The best of humanity's recorded history is a creative balance between horrors endured and victories achieved, and so it was during the Harlem Renaissance.
This is the basis, and I am not being tried for whether I am a Communist, I am being tried for fighting for the right of my people, who are still second-class citizens in this United States of America
Melanin is an incomparable beauty. From the lightest to the darkest skin tone, Black women and Black girls are exquisite beauty in every shade. Yes, Black females have that special something that just can’t be ignored. We are Melanin Queens, beautifully created! Respect the complexion.
It is truly horrible to understand yourself as the essential below of your country. It breaks too much of what we would like to think about ourselves, our lives, the world we move through and the people who surround us. The struggle to understand is our only advantage over this madness.
It began to strike me that the point of my education was a kind of discomfort, was the process that would not award me my own especial Dream but would break all the dreams, all the comforting myths of Africa, of America, and everywhere, and would leave me only with humanity in all its terribleness. And there was so much terrible out there, even among us. You must understand this.
And America, too, is a delusion, the grandest one of all. The white race believes--believes with all its heart--that it is their right to take the land. To kill Indians. Make war. Enslave their brothers. This nation shouldn't exist, if there is any justice in the world, for its foundations are murder, theft, and cruelty. Yet here we are.
White ain't nothing.'Mama's grip did not lessen. 'It is something, Cassie. White is something just like black is something. Everybody born on this Earth is something, and nobody, no matter what color is better than anybody else.''Then how come Mr. Simms don't know that.''Because he's one of those people who has to believe that white people are better than black people to make himself feel big.' I stared questionably at Mama, not really understanding.Mama squeezed my hadn't and explained further, 'You see, Cassie, many years ago, when our people were fist brought from Africa in chains to work as slaves in this country--''Like Big Ma's Papa and Mama?'Mama nodded. Yes, baby. Like Papa Luke and Mama Rachael. Except they were born right here is Mississippi, but their grandparents were born in Africa. And when they came, there was some white people who thought that is was wrong for any people to be slaves. So the people who needed slaves to work in their fields and the people who were making money bringing slaves from Africa preached that black people weren't really people like white people were, so slavery was all right. They also said that slavery was good for us because it thought us to be good Christians, like the white people.' She sighed deeply, her voice fading into a distant whisper, 'But they didn't teach us Christianity to save our souls, but to teach us obedience. They were afraid of slave revolts and they wanted us to learn the Bible's teachings about slaves being loyal to their masters. But even teaching Christianity didn't make us stop wanting to be free and many slaves ran away.
There are no clean victories for black people, nor, perhaps, for any people. The presidency of Barack Obama is no different. One can now say that an African American individual can rise to the same level as a white individual, and yet also say that the number of black individuals who actually qualify for that status will be small. One thinks of Serena Williams, whose dominance and stunning achievements can’t, in and of themselves, ensure equal access to tennis facilities for young black girls. The gate is open and yet so very far away.
One Saturday morning last May, I joined the presidential motorcade as it slipped out of the southern gate of the White House. A mostly white crowd had assembled. As the motorcade drove by, people cheered, held up their smartphones to record the procession, and waved American flags. To be within feet of the president seemed like the thrill of their lives. I was astounded. An old euphoria, which I could not immediately place, gathered up in me. And then I remembered, it was what I felt through much of 2008, as I watched Barack Obama’s star shoot across the political sky. I had never seen so many white people cheer on a black man who was neither an athlete nor an entertainer. And it seemed that they loved him for this, and I thought in those days, which now feel so long ago, that they might then love me, too, and love my wife, and love my child, and love us all in the manner that the God they so fervently cited had commanded.
Barack Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012 were dismissed by some of his critics as merely symbolic for African Americans. But there is nothing “mere” about symbols.
I can never do justice to the great feeling of amazement and encouragement I felt when, perhaps for the first time in American history, white citizens of a Southern state banded together to come to Selma and show their indignation about the injustices against the African-Americans.
It’s important that young people know about the struggles we faced to get to the point we are today. Only then will they appreciate the hard-won freedom of blacks in this country.
There are hundreds of political prisoners right now in America’s jails who were so taken by Malcolm [X’s} spirit that they became warriors and the powers that be understood them as warriors. They knew that a lot of these other middle-class [black] leaders were not warriors; they were professionals; they were careerists. But these warriors had callings, and they have paid an incalculable and immeasurable price in those cells.
If we truly believe in the power of cultural institutions to impact communities and engage authentically with social justice issues, if we believe in museums’ capacity to bring about social change, improve cultural awareness, and even transform the world, than we must also believe that our internal practices have an impact, and must act according to the changes we seek.
Through The Mecca I saw that we were, in our own segregated body politic, cosmopolitans. The black diaspora was not just our own world but, in so many ways, the Western world itself. Now, the heirs of those Virginia planters could never directly acknowledge this legacy or reckon with its power. And so that beauty that Malcolm pledged us to protect, black beauty, was never celebrated in movies, in television, or in the textbooks I’d seen as a child. Everyone of any import, from Jesus to George Washington, was white. This was why your grandparents banned Tarzan and the Lone Ranger and toys with white faces from the house. They were rebelling against the history books that spoke of black people only as sentimental “firsts”—first black five-star general, first black congressman, first black mayor—always presented in the bemused manner of a category of Trivial Pursuit. Serious history was the West, and the West was white. This was all distilled for me in a quote I once read from the novelist Saul Bellow. I can’t remember where I read it, or when—only that I was already at Howard. “Who is the Tolstoy of the Zulus?” Bellow quipped. Tolstoy was “white,” and so Tolstoy “mattered,” like everything else that was white “mattered.” And this view of things was connected to the fear that passed through the generations, to the sense of dispossession. We were black, beyond the visible spectrum, beyond civilization. Our history was inferior because we were inferior, which is to say our bodies were inferior. And our inferior bodies could not possibly be accorded the same respect as those that built the West. Would it not be better, then, if our bodies were civilized, improved, and put to some legitimate Christian use?
The power structure understands that Black folks have been hungry for so long, fixing us a plate now that's the same size as theirs would do nothing for our hunger. After all, they're pretty full and fat.They know we now require a much bigger plate than theirs to quiet the stomach rumblings.They see us and know what it looks like to be less powerful. They are fighting to never FEEL it.
Superior, do you understand me? These are white people. They are not like you, or me or us. They have the power to hurt you ... and sometimes it's fun to them when they do. Their power is not because they are smart ... it's because ... something happened sometime ... started somewhere and they got on top of the world. They got the power. The only power you got is to learn to live with them, learn to read their minds ... til you can do better. They don't treat each other right ... so don't you look to be treated right. You hear me? Sometimes there's good white people ... but don't you act like that til you know that.
The black world was expanding before me, and I could see now that that world was more than a photonegative of that of the people who believe they are white. White America is a syndicate arrayed to protect its exclusive power to dominate and control our bodies. Sometimes this power is direct (lynching), and sometimes it is insidious (redlining). But however it appears, the power of domination and exclusion is central to the belief in being white, and without it, white people would cease to exist for want of reasons.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream was a manifestation of hope that humanity might one day get out of its own way by finding the courage to realize that love and nonviolence are not indicators of weakness but gifts of significant strength.
It is a beautiful thing to be on fire for justice… there is no greater joy than inspiring and empowering others––especially the least of these, the precious and priceless wretched of the earth!
Women with dark skin are sharing selfies on social media after decades of being underrepresented in the mainstream media. From what I have observed much of the dark skin adoration on social media appears to come from us - black women. We tend to use the appreciation hashtags with our own pictures of photographs of dark skin women whom we feel are stunning. While I am loving this fierceness.. There is just one sidetone to this revolution: I feel as if we are much more appreciated if we show more skin. The timelines are filled with absolutely beautiful dark-skinned women but most sadly most of the time they are all oiled up and showing their body parts in different angles.Now, I am definitely in to art and as a model I know that this comes with the territory. But we most not forget that we are Queens.. We need to stop degrading ourselves for likes on the gram. You don't have to be naked to show the world you're beautiful.You my sister are an African Queen.I feel as if black women are only appreciated if they wear very provocative clothes or if they do naked photoshoots. To me, it's degrading and reminds me of the time that we couldn't ride the bus because we were black. Women were seen as servants. The black women that weren't servants were sex slaves.We are not objects, we are not meat and people need to stop looking at us as sex objects. BUT we need to start respecting ourselves first! A black woman is a woman first and it should not even be necessary to specify the colour but this is the society we live in and I feel like I had to share this.
He had met this sort of white man before, earnest and believing what came out of their mouths. The veracity of their words was another matter, but at least they believed them. The southern white man was spat from the loins of the devil and there was no way to forecast his next evil act.
Only a few days after my encounter with the police, two patrolmen tackled Alton Sterling onto a car, then pinned him down on the ground and shot him in the chest while he was selling CDs in front of a convenience store, seventy-five miles up the road in Baton Rouge. A day after that, Philando Castile was shot in the passenger seat of his car during a police traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, as his girlfriend recorded the aftermath via Facebook Live.Then, the day after Castile was killed, five policemen were shot dead by a sniper in Dallas. It felt as if the world was subsumed by cascades of unceasing despair. I mourned for the family and friends of Sterling and Castille. I felt deep sympathy for the families of the policemen who died. I also felt a real fear that, as a result of what took place in Dallas, law enforcement would become more deeply entrenched in their biases against black men, leading to the possibility of even more violence.The stream of names of those who have been killed at the hands of the police feels endless, and I become overwhelmed when I consider all the names we do not know—all of those who lost their lives and had no camera there to capture it, nothing to corroborate police reports that named them as threats. Closed cases. I watch the collective mourning transpire across my social-media feeds. I watch as people declare that they cannot get out of bed, cannot bear to go to work, cannot function as a human being is meant to function. This sense of anxiety is something I have become unsettlingly accustomed to. The familiar knot in my stomach. The tightness in my chest. But becoming accustomed to something does not mean that it does not take a toll. Systemic racism always takes a toll, whether it be by bullet or by blood clot.
To those who are struggling. To talk about a struggle, you're likely to forget about it. To be shown a struggle, you're likely not to forget it. But, to live through a struggle, you'll understand it.
You are growing into consciousness, and my wish for you is that you feel no need to constrict yourself to make other people comfortable.
I know that no matter how liberal or progressive I profess to be, no matter how successfully, how diligently I seek to be enlightened and nuanced in my understanding of the world and those around me, I know that there still is a tiny, virulent nugget, a germ of prejudice that exists deep within me — the product of those stereotypes and awful jokes of childhood and adolescence, and that it must always be powerfully held at bay by reason, understanding and love.
Holocaust survivors and their descendants are supposed to hate those who oppressed and killed them and their people. Black people are not. This is how anti-blackness works.
Programmed in self-hatred, many of us shadow-box the light of day away and chase everything meaningless the night through until we perish more ignorant and confused than the very day we were born.
The gap that was created during those transatlantic voyages hundreds of years ago.That gap is the matrix of Saudade – The Longing, I think, that all Africans in the West have, that is at the root of the blues and jazz and soul and rap. If you listen you can hear it, elusive, fleeting, full of melancholy anger.
I understand now that the only time black people don't feel guilty is when we've actually done something wrong, because that relieves us of the cognitive dissonance of being black and innocent, and in a way the prospect of going to jail becomes a relief.
Millions of tears have fallen for black sons, brothers, lovers, and friends whose assailants took or maimed their lives and then simply went on their way.
You may have heard the talk of diversity, sensitivity training, and body cameras. These are all fine and applicable, but they understate the task and allow the citizens of this country to pretend that there is real distance between their own attitudes and those of the ones appointed to protect them. The truth is that the police reflect America in all of its will and fear, and whatever we might make of this country’s criminal justice policy, it cannot be said that it was imposed by a repressive minority. The abuses that have followed from these policies—the sprawling carceral state, the random detention of black people, the torture of suspects—are the product of democratic will. And so to challenge the police is to challenge the American people who send them into the ghettos armed with the same self-generated fears that compelled the people who think they are white to flee the cities and into the Dream. The problem with the police is not that they are fascist pigs but that our country is ruled by majoritarian pigs.
To be black in America is a wild and endless assault on the senses. You can spend every day fighting off your spiritual and intellectual extinction.
But in view of the constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guarantied by the supreme law of the land are involved.
If niggers were supposed to have their freedom, they wouldn't be in chains. If the red man was supposed to keep hold of his land, it'd still be his. If the white man wasn't destined to take this new world, he wouldn't own it now.Here was the true Great Spirit, the divine thread connecting all human endeavor--if you can keep it, it is yours. Your property, slave or continent. The American imperative.
I’m dying twice as fastas any other Americanbetween eighteen and thirty-fiveThis disturbs me,but I try not to show it in public.