She is here. Chicago, USA and 2012. Walkabout; concrete and asphalt. The sounds of the city, green fields, bricks and dirt. Art school. I brought my pencil.
Here I am.
What is it, in this core? The sounds of post-punk, Cezanne’s palette, Tubbs’ punch lines? Is it this? Is it this that influences me to do the things I do? Or is it just taste? Use of a Band-Aid? No. Berry blue Kool-Aid? No. Does this drag me out of bed? No. Move me? Structure me? No. No. When I open my mouth, who speaks?
It is the world that shapes me. I am clay to society’s hand. A product of everything I see, a bit of everything I know. These things pull me in one direction or another. I am aware, and that is my filter. Check it. The illegitimate bastard child of Afrocentric American culture, set upon the earth in early ‘92. Proof. She does not, not do, what she should not, she will not. That is me.
The origin; South St. Louis City, winter. The place where it all began. I was in full bloom and surrounded by a mix of all sorts, all kinds, everything. From the turntable spun old Italian records, from the bedroom a low powerful voice muttering in Arabic. Home.
Here is the storm. Middle school tip; my authority declares me black. True. Among other things. How? Black? Skin, the lightest tint of olive, freckles and a blazing mane? No. Kinked locks, a wider nose and lips that told the truth. They found me. But this is just superficial. It was inside. In my veins. There was desert blood in there too. And the sun of my hair was not squeezed from a bottle. Did it matter? Only one thing did. In the eyes of the world I was an idea of a person. An idea of black. I became this. I became defined by it. This blackness. I denied it, tried to hide it, comb out the kinks.
I was more than the white American idealization of black; a lazy, uneducated, unimportant, second-class citizen. We are more than this. Du Bois wrote it out.
Born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world, — a world which yields him no true self consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world.
He knew it. It was him, and it is me. Do I, inherently live through this blackness?
A far trip on the ‘L’ resulted in a deep survey from a friend. With her mind she probed me on my black identity. She didn’t get the picture; only a quarter Negroid, how would I carry such a black stigma. These questions. This question. I was intrigued, so this is how I spoke. My early breathes, where I walked, where I rest, that was my company. I was always aware, always there, but it was never so significant until I felt the push. The push of a VST student, in the place I was because of my race. The push of being pushed into a single definable race. The push of being easily categorized.
Prehistoric time. Here in these states, lies a code. Dating back to weed out the coloreds and evidently it currently stands. James Davis, the one-drop rule:
To be considered black in the United States not even half of one’s ancestry must be African black. But will one-fourth do, or one-eighth, or less? The nation’s answer to the question “Who is black?” has long been that a black is any person with any known African black ancestry. This definition reflects the long experience with slavery and later with Jim Crow segregation. In the South it became known as the “one-drop rule,” meaning that a single drop of “black blood” makes a person a black. It is also known as the “one black ancestor rule,” some courts have called it the “traceable amount rule,” and anthropologists call it the “hypo-descent rule,” meaning that racially mixed persons are assigned the status of the subordinate group. This definition emerged from the American South to become the nation’s definition.
This idea of racial identity applies to no other group than Black Americans and is found nowhere else but the United States. This is what I told her.
There. There is a struggle for coloreds to fit into the white man’s world. There, we have a need to find our identity through the eyes of the white man. Fanon felt the twoness, asking, “What does man want? What does the black man want?” Du Bois brought the double consciousness issue upfront. There is always a need to fight for equality and a need for blacks to prove themselves in the world on behalf of their people. Our striving comes from a place of repression. History did this. Black shall overcome this.
My past on the table. Is it this and only this that speaks through me? Combo. It is the history that speaks through me. When I become something, I am no longer the job description, but the black counterpart of the job description. I accept. This stays with me. There is no hiding, no running away, no denying. I embrace this. My insides possess a dire need to prove myself. Here. My twoness. There is something there. Inherited.
The history of black, it speaks through me.