The other day, my mom woke up at 5am to identify her 39-year-old cousin Jeanette’s body at the morgue, talk to the detective who was determining whether or not it was an overdose or domestic violence, go to the funeral home to make arrangements for her, and go to Jeanette’s apartment to pick up her stuff while tiptoeing around her abusive boyfriend. Then, at the supermarket, a drunk man harassed her and asked, “Hey, do blondes really have more fun?”
What? Seriously, folks. Or something.
Ash Wednesday is my shit. I love the temporally promiscuous idea of: Guess what, y’all? We’ve always been dead, are still dead, and will be dead. We are all made of deadness. Let’s mourn our own future deadnesses along with current and past deadnesses of others whom we’ve been mourning. In this way, they’re kind of all the same collective deadness.
The truth is that a lot of us (and this includes Black women) mistakenly think we love Black women.
We think we love Black women because we enjoy some Black women aesthetically. Or because we like Strong Black Women around us who don’t remember that they are human and deserving of love and instead pour all of their love into us. We want the “you is kind, you is smart” routine and expect it.
We looooove body parts: the Saartjie Baartman ass. We like the “ebony” section in pornography. We love mammies. We are fascinated by Jezebels and use their image as the blueprint for “deviant” sexuality (see Miley Cyrus). We love the Queens and the sistas which of course means that we hate the thot’s and the hos.
But we think we love Black women.
We love the Black women who fall in love with men, get married, and have kids (in that order). We love the Black women who have degrees but ain’t too independent. We love the “she got her own” Black women as long as they don’t emasculate the man.
And we love the Black woman who is behind us. We are wary of the ones beside us. And we hate the ones ahead of us. Because there’s only room for ONE successful Black woman.
We think we love Black women because there’s a few who we think are good role models. And we spend the rest of our time explaining why the rest of the Black women are not. We think we love Black women because we hate twerking. Because we hate slang. Because we hate Real Wives and Scandal. Because we give “tough love” and quote Steve Harvey and Tyrese.
We think we love Black women. But we don’t know the first thing about love. We are still buried in white supremacy and patriarchy.
We don’t know how to escape and we’re not even sure that we want to. Because we don’t know if we have the spirit and the energy to truly love Black womanhood in its multi-faceted and complete nature. We believe in tokenism: there’s room in our hearts to love a few.
But that’s not true. It is easier and freer to love without contingency. It is the beginning of a powerful self-love which would translate into genuine political and social power.
The “romantic-sexual/platonic” love dichotomy leaves no room for the real emotional nuances people experience in their attachments, and I think that it often causes us to live with simplified relationships not because we want to or because we have simple desires and feelings but because we have no experience, cultural context, or language to accommodate a complex social life or set of relationships. This is why language is so important. This is why words and labels matter. How can you have the kind of relationships you want with anyone, if you don’t even have the words to accurately express how you feel? Hell, half the time, people don’t even understand their own feelings and relationship desires because what they feel is not simple at all, but the only relationship framework they know makes everything seem simple and clear cut: romance and sex go together, friendship is separate from both of those things, couplehood/primary partnership is exclusive to romance and sex, etc.
But if we are to accept the possibilities and realities of asexual romance, primary nonsexual/nonromantic love, nonromantic sex and sexual friendship, romantic (nonsexual) friendship, queerplatonic nonsexual relationships and sexual relationships, etc…. we have to drop this way of thinking and speaking about relationships and love in a romantic-sexual/platonic dichotomous way. None of those “complex” relationships fit into that model
"For once a selkie finds her skin again, neither chains of steel nor chains of love can keep her from the sea."
-The Secret Of Roan Inish
Identities are formed at the unstable point where personal lives meet the narrative of history. Identity is an ever-unfinished conversation.
— Stuart Hall (via fraeuleinsmilla)
This is going to be the week that I get up the chutzpah to buy a bra and wear one for the first time in about eight years.