Redefining Who I Am

A recent article posited “Slavery made America wealthy, and racist policies since have blocked African American wealth-building. Can we calculate the economic damage?”

No one in their right mind

would expect me to solve the riddle, but someone unburdened by the legacy of American chattel slavery did, and the very question highlights the problem. American racism’s enduring legacy includes the expectation that the aggrieved bear, among their burdens, that of proposing solutions to their own violators that might be deemed acceptable.

Woman of African descent in thought. Queen.

That is madness.

Let me ask you? What is considered acceptable compensation for kidnapping, imprisonment, centuries of enforced servitude? Add in lasting deficits like higher infant and adult mortality rates, lower life expectancy, higher rates of unemployment, lower income, and higher rates of imprisonment. Loss of culture, loss of history, and no sense of national pride. In fact, the only country you can claim despises you. What would that be worth to you?

How is it even possible to consider that an appropriate question?

It’s absurd. The ongoing oppression of marginalized persons is to lay upon them the obligation to right the systems by which they are oppressed. Hear my declaration…

I am no longer dispassionate about American racism. I never will be.


I’m tapping out. I’ve spent too long bearing all this weight; I’m done.

I require new language to define who I am. Here is what I am not. The only country granting me birthright citizenship makes it clear I am not wanted (America, you are a horrible mother country to many of your children).

I am of African descent.

Don’t call me a WOC, BIPOC, or POC (woman, black, indigenous person of color). The newest microagression, I find it dismissive, yet another erasure. Yet another box I’m being forced into. I’ll never be constrained by anything less than the Will of God.

“That place-based specificity is what the term ‘person of color’ doesn’t deal with adequately. ”

from Black Girl Dangerous

I was raised by Nationalist, Black Liberation Theologists in the 60s. I’m the daughter of a Baptist, Ivy-league seminarian pastor who was a member of The Black Panther Party; mom founded The Black Mother’s Movement in our very small town.
it’s not my burden to fix and educate America, particularly the American church. I’m not ready to play nice, and feel no obligation to do so.

Now I choose.

The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.”

—Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

“Black Power, in short, is an attitude, an inward affirmation of the essential worth of blackness. It means that the black man will not be poisoned by the stereotypes that others have of him, but will affirm from the depth of his soul : “Get used to me, I am not getting used to anyone.” 

— James H. Cone (Black Theology and Black Power)

Black like the night, deep like the seas, perfectly made, Imago Dei. This is who I am.

Get used to it.

5 Replies to “Redefining Who I Am”

  1. Wow! This is so incredibly deep and pensive. The cadence of it moved me as did the words. I agree 100! Honestly, hadn’t thought much about it, and never saw or perceived labels and categories as micro-aggressions …but they are if they negate my true origin or force me to categorize myself.. Wow! I’m tweeting out.

    Liked by 1 person

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