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Why I Love Being Black: Reaching Deep Into the Earth

Jamara Wakefield Feb 2

My blackness has smelled like cocoa butter and coconut oil long before Trader Joe’s sold them. My brown feels comfortable like wearing a world of understanding under a broken in leather jacket. My sepia tone reminds me of my Aunt & ‘Dem playing spades and frying food late into the dawn. 

I first knew my blackness reached deep into the earth like rhizomes running from daylight when I heard ghost stories about Southern living. My pecan tan skin felt most vibrant wrapped in my grandmother’s arms as she listened to me with care. “Of course you are smart” she says. “Of course you are beautiful.” she smiles. “Of course they all like you.” she confirms. “You are my grandchild” she emphasizes the word my. This is how I knew blackness is something worth claiming. That is how I learned that blackness is the same as holeness connectedness. Blackness for me is an irrevocable intactness sealed with love.

Blackness is coming home to a kiss on the cheek and acceptance in the eyes of our Mommy. Blackness is us making a dollar outta fifteen cent and calling it home. Blackness is naming us Jamara, Mychelle, Shayna. Jonell Jasmine and Malcolm Thomas  new names for us attached to the names of our ancestors. And when the crayola crayon box didn’t have my skin color my Mommy taught me it was okay because if you mixed all the colors together it made black so really I was every color and as a kid that felt cool. Blackness is cool.

My mother’s book case was my first black literature course. I just knew I was a little Zora Neale Hurston. I still believe I have healing powers like Minnie Ransom in The Salt Eaters. Those books wrapped me in ribbon and placed me on an altar as if they were waiting for me to understand all of the things black girls and black women must know in due time. My blackness tastes like eating a ripe mango in August on a stoop in Brooklyn. My blackness is a soft red clay rich in minerals with a moving history like the rolling hills in South Carolina. I want to bottle my blackness and give it away so it can salve your skin, fill your consciousness with love and allow you to dance like you did in the womb.

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