Black folk….apparently there’s a laundry list of things we as a people do not do. I have been brought up to speed and made aware. We don’t swim, we don’t read, we don’t write, unless it’s rap lyrics. We don’t exercise, nor run, and we don’t do yoga. We don’t eat hummus, tofu, falafel, or other weirdly pronounced items nor anything not sold at the local piggly wiggly. We don’t eat healthy and if it is healthy, we batter it up, deep fry it in lard, grease it down and bathe it in trans fat, then smother it in fat derived gravy to fix it. We don’t believe in alternative or holistic medicine. Herbs are for seasoning food, not healing the body. That’s what the good doctor and black jesus are for. We don’t hug trees, become one with nature, or charge crystals. That’s the devils’s work. Our dogs stay out in the yard because pets in the house is a no. We don’t hold hands with our best friend or dance close up on members of the same sex. That’s gay….and we don’t do gay. 🤷🏾 We spank our kids, better known as “whoopins”. If we don’t “whoop” them, the police will. We don’t play in the rain or wear birkenstocks. We don’t hike, canoe, nor camp. And as a black woman I shouldn’t still be reading comic books or playing video games. I was told black women aren’t crunchy…we don’t make batches of homemade granola or elderberry syrup. We don’t cloth diaper. “Just buy that baby some huggies and stop being extra,” they said. We don’t homeschool. “Send them younguns to school,” they said. “You’re gonna make that boy soft. Give him a bottle and some formula,” they said. Of course because we don’t breastfeed either.
How stifling all that sounds. How can anyone achieve true greatness with so many stipulations? As if detachment from our history isn’t enough, now we’re also expected to be something other than who we choose to be in this present time. We have countless boundaries placed on us with strict guidelines we must adhere to in order to maintain our “real” black status. And who is placing these expectations? These impositions on our creativity? None other than our very own. 🤔
Someone made a comment once about how my family “is all over the place”. This was proven correct and I have no shame. I’ve been called “crunchy”, a “black hippie”, and accused of “white girling while black”. I’ve just come to embrace it. I’m not a fan of limitations nor labels. So yes, my girls wear chevron print with polka dots, hair sometimes uncombed. Yes we jump and splash in puddles, stand in grass barefoot, climb trees on government property, turn cartwheels on the lawns of federal buildings, and play in fountains that are clearly roped off to keep us from doing so. And yes we did get booted by a US Park policeman for riding scooters through the national sculpture garden. He was a hater. Our garage and basement have so much clutter, we could put Fred Sanford’s junkyard to shame. We do not have ourselves together. We listen to “Hybrid Theory” on the way to school, Nas on the way home, and Kuumba kids in between. Yes we co-sleep, co-eat, bed share, baby wear, breastfeed in public, and smell one another’s armpits and necks. We charge crystals, burn sage, talk to our ancestors, and dig our toes into the soil under a full moon. Our home is not censored nor politically correct and dinner discussion can range from who could kick Thanos’ ass to why someone would want to open the first art gallery on Mars. We talk about Marvel characters as if they are real and will stand in the cold sifting through boxes at a Third Eye Comics sidewalk sale just to find a new obsession. Yes we take in stray dogs and play with rodents and sometimes have to chase our birds through the house. A friend of mine told me last month “yall are the weirdest black folk I know.” Are we though??? It is not intentional. We’re just us, and for some reason, it gets my black card revoked so often I’ve traded it in for an upgraded version called the Freedom Card aka IDGAF card.
Photo courtesy of Julian Howard