My Brilliance Is Black

You interrupted my brilliance to ask; Why do you act white?

The notion of “acting white” teaches us to disassociate our brilliance, and our accomplishments, and our curiosities, and our uniqueness with our blackness. The notion of “acting white” teaches us that some parts of us don’t belong to us and in fact those parts of us are wrong, or perhaps they’re right, depending on if we strive to be accepted first and foremost by white people (consciously or subconsciously).

The notion of “acting white” teaches us that some of us don’t belong and when some of us don’t belong the black community becomes fractured by disdain and distrust. In this teaching; not all black people, are perceived as truly black people. In this teaching; there is both a right and a wrong way to be who you are.

We are taught to reject ourselves. We are taught to distance ourselves from each other. We are taught to withhold from each other. We are taught to compete with each other. We are taught to destroy one another.

We are taught to reject our diversity.

And our divinity.

All the while, we are robbed of the home we could be for each other.

All the while, we are taught that only white people get nice things. We are taught that only white people say smart things. We are taught that only white people have worthwhile stories to tell. We are taught that only white people like this genre, or that line of work, or that style of dress, or that kind of magic, or achieve that level of success, or enjoy that level of sustainability. We are taught that only white people get accolades from institutions built by, and for the pleasure of, white people.

We are taught that only white people are safe to be all of who they are.

We are taught that only white people deserve to be trusted when they are vulnerable. We are taught that only white people deserve to be forgiven when they are wrong. We are taught that only white people deserve our empathy when they are sick with addiction. We are taught that only white people deserve to enjoy the company of their whole families. We are taught that only white people deserve to be grieved for when they die.

We are taught that the path to our power lies in the hallways of buildings owned by white people, acquired after following rules devised by white people, and rewarded with treasures kept on the other side of doors locked by white people.

And even when we rise…

We are taught that it doesn’t count.

We must have been born in Kenya….or been in cahoots with the Illuminati…or privileged with affirmative action, or witchcraft, or both.

All the while, we are shown that so long as our worth is allotted under the guise of whiteness, we will always fall short of all that we are…left with a longing that cannot be filled.

And yet, our very existence gives white supremacy meaning. Without us? It ceases to exist. White power relies on nonwhite pain and so long as that’s the case we must understand that even our oppression is an indication of our power.

White supremacy is codependent. It is insecure. White supremacy is a worth that relies on our worthlessness which means that without us it is meaningless.

Our participation is a prerequisite for it’s survival and I refuse to participate any more.

My brilliance is black.

I choose to dream and build from this place.

I choose to build a home for us devised of us in all of our diversity and divinity. I choose to build a home for us devised of us where our healing and our honesty and our vulnerability are held with tenderness. Where we teach ourselves and each other, how to love ourselves and each other. Where we unmask the ways that our oppression has taught us to seek love through oppressing others.

Toxic masculinity, patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, Islamaphobia, xenophobia, antisemitism, and internalized anti-blackness are weapons and wounds that require our care and attention. We must examine where our worth relies on the worthlessness of another and we must atone.

“I’m sorry that I used you, to try and feel at home in myself…”

“I’m sorry, please forgive me, I am only now unlearning the ways I’ve been taught to be. I am only now learning to feel big, without needing to make someone feel small first. I’m sorry, I wish I had been taught how to love you.”

We can choose to use how we’ve been harmed as a master class on how we might heal.

Accordingly; it is our job to center the healing of those who have been most oppressed over our own education, or validation, or right to say and do whatever we want.

Take a moment to dream with me:

What does it look like to be informed of the harm we’ve caused and to simply take responsibility.

“I’m sorry that I’ve harmed you, please forgive me.”

What does it look like to treat ourselves and each other with not only empathy but compassion for the ways in which our hurts teach us to perpetuate harm.

“I’m sorry, I want to love you, please forgive me.”

What does it look like to address all the ways we’ve been harmed without ever becoming what we fight. To be beautifully human and beautifully okay with all the ways that’s made manifest.

To not view our failures or complexities as indictments of us but as evidence of where growth is required. To strive for wholeness over perfection or respectability or unilateral acceptance.

To prioritize your safety and sanity over my sense of humor every time, no questions asked. To assert boundaries when you’ve harmed me, and to extend grace when you atone. To be honest about the times when extending grace isn’t immediately available — to let rage speak when it visits. To accept where I’m at even if it’s not where I think I should be.

To privilege being aligned with our souls over being applauded by our egos. To risk being misunderstood by strangers on the internet for the chance to speak our heart’s visions to life. To prioritize being whole over being accessible.

We are taught to be harmful, to use our hurt to harm — and yet it is in us and for us to teach ourselves how to heal.

Doing so requires seeing your healing as inextricably linked to my own. Doing so requires seeing your rise as inextricably linked to my own. To root for you, and fight for you, and celebrate your wins, and your healing, and your triumphs, as if they are my own. To love myself as if the world depends on it while rejecting the notion that loving you takes from me.

No, in loving you, I’m loving me.

A love that sustains, that creates new worlds, that fuels your fire whether you are giving it or receiving it.

I — you — we, are worthy of such love.


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