I am envious of black people who seem so comfortable in their black skin. They seem to move so effortlessly through the world. They know black references and lingo, understand black music, can rattle off black artists, and just seem to get all the symbols and codes that regularly escape me. And then I would question -- what exactly are black references, black music, black artists, and black lingo? Who gets to decide that?
What I do know is that from a young age, I learned that my blackness wasn’t good enough or black enough. I listen to Ed Sheeran, the Spice Girls, Justin Timberlake, Regina Spektor, Adele, Meghan Trainor, David Bowie. And yet, there was a time in my life when Bone Thugs N Harmony was my favorite group, and I had a subwoofer in my 1997 black two-door Honda Civic blasting Ludacris on Fairfax Corner Parkway in Northern Virginia. I listen to J. Cole, Jay Z, Lupe Fiasco, Kid Cudi, Beyonce, Andra Day, Missy Elliott. I got my ears pierced my first year in college, and I now have two tattoos. Do these things make me black? Shrug… If blackness is relegated to music, dress, language, and slang, then I am not part of this blackness. And yet, so many people, often those within the so-called "Black Community," use these markers as some identifier of one’s blackness. If those are the markers, I will always be marked out. And although I have always resented that my blackness was not considered black enough, I have longed to be recognized as a legitimate part of this "Black Community."
I call this blog post “Learning to Love My Blackness” with emphasis on “learning.” This word implies a process that is continual and never-ending. Black beauty is so beautiful because black people are not a monolithic group. And yet, why do we so often try to be? Why do we set norms for which we expect others to abide? This blog post is an act of resistance. To love my blackness in a world that denies so much of my humanity is my act of resistance. I choose to love myself even if that love sometimes feels fleeting. And yet, I return to that love, remind myself of that love, and claim that love. Even on days when it’s hard to believe, I state that I love myself for stating it is (re)claiming that love. Go ahead. Try it now. I. Love. Myself. When I listen to Kendrick Lamar state those words in the song “i,” I get goosebumps for how powerful of a statement it is.