Black People are Eternally My Valentine (Please appreciate my clickbait title)
Just as the relentless waves from Katrina receded, we journeyed afoot back to our recently submerged house, our hearts and minds in slow recession from trauma. After a swell of praise for the dead water moccasins (that we had avoided during our escape), I measured my height against the fudge colored waterline. We stood outside to further assess the damage. It was as if the Spirit of Mississippi, manifest in overcast humidity, was summoned from the earth.
Without digital time and aided only by gears, we expected that we had three hours of sunlight remaining. We readied the overnight package. Suddenly, we heard commotion stirring outside.
It was a red pickup truck, probably a Ford F-150, filled with Mississippians.
“Ya’ll need some help? Do ya’ll have a way out?”
“Yea, but we heard that that bridge is closed.”
“Okay, we’ll be back.”
We had no faith that they would be back. They were white.
20 minutes to an hour later, we saw another truck pass by and we saw Black folks. The same exchange happened. They never came back.
At the beginning of dusk, the truck showed back up. They were fellow Christians, and they took us to shelter.
That was over eleven years ago. I was merely eleven years old at the time. I had a choice to fall into the trap of devaluing my people and exalting WASP saviourism. But I didn’t. Maybe it was because of the Black family we met in the cafeteria of the shelter that we bonded with. Maybe because it was the way I saw the white people use their dogs to guard the same classrooms I took quizzes in the week before. Maybe it was because I had been called a nigger in school only two years before that. Whatever the reason, I didn’t allow that experience to mold the my perception of myself.
Mostly because I love myself, I love my people.
It’s that agape love that MLK spent three minutes articulating with that southern, Black Baptist exegetical drawl. It’s radical.
It’s the love that Saul of Tarsus (yes I used his hood name) described as this:
1 Corinthians 13:4–13 New International Version (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
I love my people when they say the music too loud. I love my people when they say we got ghetto names. I love people when they say we aren’t classically beautiful. I love my people when they try to sell me oils. I love my people when they they listen to Umar Johnson and believe in Chemtrails. I love my people when they believe in Yakub but date a white woman (hoteps; interracial dating seems to be a contradiction to their Black Love patriarchal beliefs). I love us when we are bougie. I love my people when they say that sitting on the porch is tacky. I love my people when the murder rate is high. I love my people when we have unplanned families. I love my people when we think we can’t do right and gon’ be like our ain’t ish deadbeats. I love my people when we trappin’ because we don’t know anything else. I love us when we incarcerated. I love us when we late and coming around the corner. I love us when we don’t have a 9–5 but have a mixtape on the way. I love us when our property values are low. I love us when we are not on a “black excellence” hashtag. I love my people when we have gold teeth and our pants hang low in 2017 (sartorial shade). I love us when we can never answer simple questions and respond in blog posts (self-referential shade).
Love is not condone. But sometimes we can buy into the white supremacist trap of treating each other and assessing worth based on a `works-based criteria.
Our ancestors had faith that the shackles would be loosened and they were. Our grandparents had hope for a better life and we were blessed with Michelle LaVaughn Robinson. What we need now is radical love. But to even say that is redundant, because love in and of itself is radical.
Are we willing to be patient with that yougin’ who seems to be malevolent?
Are we willing to be compassionate to the drug addict and and them get help?
Are we willing to let the white American dream go?
Are we willing to work without profit-serving self interest?
Are we willing to be humble enough to challenge ourselves on patriarchy?
Are we willing to enact “tough love”through restorative justice and not just respectability politics?
Are we willing to put our issues aside and stay involved in our children’s life?
Are we willing to love our curly hair, full hips, thick hips, broad noses, and voluminous shades?
As the passage states, a sign of maturation is the presence of love. Where there is knowledge, articles, TEDx talks, panels, conferences, church services, protest songs, or captivating visual art, it will pass away (marginal impact).
You can read the origins of this holiday for yourself. Black folks are my Valentine eternally, not to be neglected on February 15, and not to be reduced to an annual materialistic expression. Imma re-Columbus this holiday.
Happy Most White Americans Still Do Not Know Who Patricia Bath Is But Still Ask Why We Need It Month!
Create Black Life Tonight!