Here we are, 20 and some change. Still trying to find our “ism,” our “thing,” our place in the world. Ourselves.
As a soon-to-be graduate, I’m finally entering the stage in life where I won’t identify as a student. That’s right. After years of instructional education, I will no longer be confined to the somewhat cage-like structure of a classroom.
As freeing as that sounds, it raises the question of, “Who am I now?”
I thought this answer would be a complex one. An identity derived from the mixture of this and that; resulting characteristics from this experience and that experience; collective ideologies of a strict, Christian preacher’s grandchild, yet current millennial Omnist; even displeasing traits from undercurrent issues. But after reflecting, the answer was simple. I am black and being black is the root of everything I do; everything I am.
“I’m a black woman.”
“I’m a black writer.”
“I aspire to be a leader in the black community.”
“I’ll be a black graduate who beat multiple statistics.”
“I’m experiencing black love.”
I not only arrived at this conclusion by establishing my labels, but by my response to things as well. Everything I do, enjoy, say and believe in, is a direct impression from my race. Being black in America is its own expense, so much that we had to create our own culture. A culture that’s often ridiculed, yet mimicked and looked up to, which is why I take so much pride in identifying as such.
To me, being black is one of the best gifts God has ever rewarded me with. It’s like I was chosen to be a part of a cool club that comes with natural swag, humor, style, creativity, resilience, hustle, art, literature, vitality and magic.
Even with the odds systematically placed against us, still, we rise. For centuries, our ancestors have found ways of turning nothing into something and mastering the unlucky cards that were and still are dealt to us. I am here today because of them.
Being black is beautiful because it’s a lifestyle in its own. Even though every person of color isn’t related, we’ve most likely had experiences that are analogous to one another, which creates an unspoken, yet loud bond.
We’ve all been purposely late to functions because we comprehend the rules of C.P.T., (colored people’s time) and knew it wouldn’t be poppin’ until an hour or two after it starts. We all knew loud gospel music on Saturday mornings signaled an unwanted cleaning day. We’ve all had to volunteer our mom for either the ride there or ride back because she “ain’t doin’ both.” We all had different grandmothers, but still seemed to have the same one. We all had different holiday gatherings, but still shared the same experiences. Those #ThanksgivingWithBlackFamilies and #GrowingUpBlack statuses on social media aren’t just memes, but a collective recount of shared memories I’m glad to be a part of.
Despite the struggles, I love everything about being black. Hardships make triumphs even sweeter and create generational resilience. We share a vibrant culture of phenomenal talent, knowledge and sass others hate, yet idolize simultaneously. Being black is a huge part of who I am, and I wouldn’t want to identify as anyone else. I’m honored to be affiliated with those of a rich background and culture. I’m honored to share the ebony essence only we understand.