On Being Black


I have strong opinions on being black.
Yes, opinions about my experience, living while black.
My opinions include, if you will, questions, emotions, and thoughts compiled.

As important as it is for me is to share my opinions, it is as important that I discover others that may share in similar opinions. This black flesh I’m in, though brown black, has been the topic of much controversy.
Like the shit white girls say to black girls, 
or the shit that black preachers say to queer black boys,
or the shit that corporate offices say about black hair.

And on the topic of hair, how should one’s hair be any determination for litigation? Freedom is for the living is it not? Hair has freedom too, does it not? And the fact that a person’s hair governs perpetual defense says much about those in positions to govern rules based on hair in the first place.

And in my opinion that shit is fuckery, simply blasphemous!
It is my belief that color battles are going on.
Yes, colored societies battling in colorful warfare.
I’ve fought in such battles while coming of age and never triumphed.
I have been feasted on and feasted upon savagely.

A direct descendent of “my black is better syndrome.” I’m opinionated as if my black is better…more closely matching that which is black. Reminds me of a situation I had with a pale black girl while “coming into my blackness.”
She made the comment, “Wanna be African, looking like a bee hive on her head.”

After her buffoonery toward my head wrap; my first defense was to cut her deep…
Not literally, but metaphorically deep.
So, I two pieced that bitch by replying, “shut up white girl. You just mad cause you ain’t black like me.” 

Her reaction was disheartening.
Her reaction evoked sadness, sorrow, regret.
Reminders of the time I visited my family after going away to foster care and having them say I wasn’t black anymore because in their words I talked white.

How easy it was to create perceptions based on not looking black enough, talking black enough, acting black enough, or to the exact opposite.
As if there is some right way to be black. Whose place is it for anyone to share corrections of someone’s blackness?
I remember going into the Midtown Scholar, attempting a ploy for the cause of blackness. I asked the attendant for a fictional book, made up in my head, that I called, “How to be Black for Dummies Volume 2.” The attendant, who was working while black, appeared clearly perplexed. Just stared with blank eyes and mouth tightly wound, never talking…only staring.

I asked a second time, explaining that Volume 1 wasn’t enough for me to really grasp my blackness.
He snickered cautiously, then in his best speaking voice said, “Ma’am we have no such books…I’m sorry.” 

I replied with half humor, half menacing, “Well, I must write one then.”

We laughed about the experiment as I let him in on my conquest. Hence, sparking a well-needed conversation on the question of what it meant to be black. And after many interruptions we concluded that to be born black is to be born naked. And to be born naked is to be born with nothing tangible, nothing more than the glow of the spirit realm…acknowledging from whence you have come. No manuals, no scripts, no blue prints, no directions.

My strong opinions on being black coincide, aggressively and untamed, with being uncontrollably colored.

In my opinion the uncontrollable colored is colorless; simply and unapologetically effortless in living while colored. To me, the uncontrolled colored encourages reflection and acceptance on being black.
As I reflect on growing up while black, raised by West Indian, Southern Antebellum, Philadelphian blacks I am reminded of the colors of my life.
They colors bore me and tore me a new ass hole.
They colors were steel cut like oats.
They colors made me feel it every time I looked into the mirror.

Ends meet,
Food stamps (the brown ones),
Roof tops,
Double dutch, 
West Philly,
North Philly,
Dead bodies,
Malcolm X (park),
Drill team,
Hip hop,
Welfare cheese,
Powdered milk,                                                     Move 9,
Thrift shops…
They all take me back to what I defined as being black.
My strong opinions now spark new ideas.
New ideas that include no definitions at all that adequately describe my own blackness.
Because I believe to define only hinders.

In knowing colorful blacks from pale to purple, from Russia to Ghana the one connection that binds seems to be the connection that opposes…and that is creation. As in my opinion we all came from creation. Created from black, darkness. Our light comes from the dark, burst from the dark.
As I conclude, my assessment on the journey and psychology of living and feeling while being black I must make sure my position is clear…
I assure you that being alive while being black or uncontrollably colored has no dichotomy—they are not distant relatives. It is not dependent on popular cultures beliefs, does not embrace nor segregate itself from baleful images on describing what is black, nor is blackness difficulty.
My opinions on being black are refreshing and they cool me down… exactly how I feel cooled out when I hear kids talk about things they care about.
I believe that as I’ve taken time to explain, no explanation is worth more than one experiencing this on being black, uncontrollable colored themselves.
Digress in peace.
Gracie N. Berry 🙂

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