Black Kintsukuroi

“Ring the bells that can still ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That is how the light gets in.”– Leonard Cohen, Anthem

Kintsukuroi (“golden mend”) is the Japanese art of mending broken pottery using lacquer resin laced with gold or silver. The beauty of the piece is the flaws that are made into art.

Black people’s hearts are kintsukuroi.

…..

But first, we are all Black in america. None of our other designations matter in this world, as much as our race. Our race is identified on site… even if our ethnicity, ancestry, genealogy cannot be as easily ascertained. It is the source of GREAT pride. It is the source of GREAT pain. It is not real…

It is not real!

Race is indeed the child of racism. Our most valued level of existence is premised upon hatred, power, and greed… death and destruction. How can any of us, whether we have been isolated from racism or not, have unbroken hearts? Shit ain’t possible! But what makes it even more damaging, is that race has no meaning. Being Black is only juxtaposed against being White. Much in the same way being poor is juxtaposed against being rich. But those designations have meaning outside of that dichotomy. “Black” is a color. It is the color of these letters you are reading. There is not a human alive whose skin is this color, just as there is not a human alive with skin that is purely “white”. Yet, white means pure and untouched, and black is associated with being devoid of light, darkness, and the shit in the fish tank the algae eat… waste. It’s not real.

In this country, Black is synonymous with ancestral African, and as a result we are all lumped together. We are primarily children of the slave trade, but we might be American, Caribbean, Honduran, Mexican, Dominican, Brazilian, or other South American designation, African and Caribbean immigrants, and mixed-race people. However our values, traditions, and customs are as wide ranged as those between the English, Irish, Scottish, etc.

“Black” doesn’t care about culture, it only cares about difference. It’s not real. It is used as a tool of oppression. For us it is a talisman of pride. In the name of money and power, our Blackness is shot dead in the street, on our own sofas. Our Blackness is relegated to a term meaning ignorant. Our men are jailed like animals, piled up on top of each other in cages like we were once piled up in ships. Our women are raped physically and spiritually. Our children, America’s sons and daughters, labeled as thugs, undereducated, underserved, and misunderstood. Yet in our Blackness we find our differences and exalt them. In that difference is where you find our golden cracks.

Black peoples are…

rich, poor, smart, beautiful, talented, brilliant, hard-working, excellent and mediocre, doctors and dog catchers, investors, kind, unkind, light, dark, sweet as honey, bitter like lemons, honest, manipulative, men, woman, transgendered, envious, jealous, supportive, from the hood, of the bourgeoisie, woke, asleep, enlightened, ignorant, basketball players and tennis champs, golfers and gaffers, everything and yet to many, nothing. But be assured, we are as homogenous and heterogenous as any other grouping of people. However, we didn’t ask for this box. It was given to us. It is not real.

Yet we have torn this box up to escape it, and put it back together with kintsukuroi. In our newness we are damaged, but not destroyed. You see, we have taken your culture and colored it Black through music, art, literature, language, and activism. It’s not ours, but we are steadily reinventing it. It’s very difficult to pour into a country others seek to escape persecution and tyranny where we face tyrannical persecution every time we walk out of our front doors. Yet we are somehow determined to offer libations to this melting pot turned stew. We continuously offer this country our earnings… rights, education, freedom, accomplishments… our voices, and our lives. But those golden cracks are our spirit. Damaged but not destroyed.

Race is not real.

Racism is very real.

Our scars are very real.

But we… Black people… are the realest!

“There is a light that shines, special for you and me.” –Common

The Art of War

“He only like you cuz you are light skinned with long hair.”

….light, bright, and damn near white.

Are you mixed?

#teamlightskinned

The blacker the berry the sweeter the juice.

You are pretty for a brown skinned girl.

“Don’t stay in the sun too long, you don’t need to get darker”

———

Okay first, let’s get this out of the way.

This shit is DUMB and it is like feeding racists a power pill. We cannot continue to give power to systems rooted in black oppression. Period!

———-

Light skin privilege… as real as it might be, it is not the same as white privilege. In fact, it only only has power because we continue to subscribe to these whitewashed ideas of beauty, importance, and intellect, when we know better. We allow someone else’s supremacy to affect how we see ourselves and one another. It’s the art of war. A civil war results in chaos within and a sense of accomplishment and peace to the instigator.

1. According to Sun Tzu, “All warfare is based on deception.”

The tale goes that White women were so desirable, White men treated them like precious porcelain figurines and would dare not defile them. They kept them locked up in the big house to keep them away from the big Black wild brutes they had working their fields. Yet Black folks were jumping the broom and tending to White folks kids, cooking, cleaning, farming… attempting to have a life familiar to them outside of slavery. And sadly, Black women were tending by force to the White men’s sexual needs. The mixed race female progeny of such arrangement became objects of desire, because they were aesthetically similar to White women but still property to do with what they pleased. Yet the severe psychological and spiritual damage done to Black peoples as a result of slavery resulted in us carrying many of these damaging dynamics into freedom.

Lighter skin Blacks, post slavery, got better opportunities that enabled them to become more financially secure. Black men of all hues sought after light skinned Black women both as status symbols and to have kids who were lighter than brown paper bags. This was a direct byproduct of slavery. Colorism is a form of racism that not only permeates Black life outside, but also inside the culture. This notion that lighter skin gained Black people any REAL favor is untrue. True favor is never rooted in deception or the increased oppression of your people.

2. If the forces are united, separate them.

Black peoples come in EVERY shade from 58-7 (Light peachy nude) 323-1 (Mahogany) on the Pantone scale. We have every curl pattern and type of hair that can grow from ones head. We range from genius to developmentally challenged. We are CEOs and we are homeless. We live in mansions and minivans. Our DNA translates into an extremely diverse set of aesthetics and genetics. Our lives are as heterogenous as any other group of people. Sadly, history has told us that those of us who fall on the lighter spectrum are more attractive and favored. A very painful history.

But instead of coming to the true impetus if this deceit, we take to infighting. Some people on the lighter end of the spectrum embrace these toxic ideas that they are somehow better, and cause trauma and pain for our darker skin brethren by perpetrating these lies. Who didn’t hear the multitude of stupid things kids would say to each other based on their skin color…

“Well you ain’t really Black anyway…”

“You so dark you look like a burnt piece of toast.”

And where do you think they heard that from? Adults praising or elevating light skin and putting down brown skin. Labeling those with light skin and long and fine hair as attractive, smarter, nicer, and those with coarse hair and brown skin as less attractive, less intelligent, and therefore more angry. But never exploring the true roots of this mindset, and it’s roots in the very racism we despised. Colorism is but an internal form of racism. Aesthetics had become a weapon against us, to paint a whole new picture of inferiority that somehow we took on to fight each other. Divide and conquer. “Talking bout good or bad hair…”

3. The clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy.

You see, while racism was initially used to subjugate Black peoples into a position of powerlessness, it morphed into a way to shut down all the systems of pride and forward progress Black people were making. Kathleen Cleaver was a light as they came, Angela Davis, Huey Newton… but these were people knee deep in the freedom struggle for all Black people. But in the divide and conquer spirit, racists began to find ways to break up the Black Power, Civil Rights, and other freedom movements strengthening the Black community. Only light skinned Black faces were seen in movies, ads, anything that painted a picture of beauty. Brown skinned women with proud afros could be in a malt liquor add, but in a skin care add, the model would be light and long haired. White companies used their advertising power and White entertainment vehicles used their widespread appeal to brainwash us. This was just a corporate house (light skinned slaves would be cooks, help care for the children, etc in the slave owners home) versus field (darker skinned slaves were to work outside in the field) negro ideology. By simply using the same tools they always had, white supremacists were able, without saying much, to get us to turn on one another.

4. Practice dissimulation and you will succeed.

Racism isn’t going away, in fact, the more we take our natural place as leaders professionally, socially, and culturally, the worse it will get. Colorism is a powerful tool used by racists to cause divide within the culture that leads to confusion amongst us about who really is creating the discord. When Princess Tiana was brown with dark hair in The Princess and the Frog, assumed by Disney to most likely draw a Black audience, but lightens up her skin and gives her loose sandy brown curls in a more mainstream cartoon film, it simply further acknowledges that things like hair texture and skin color do impact the how America sees people of color. We cannot just accept the apology and not acknowledge that this is about more than cultural sensitivity or a black face on the marketing team. This is an example of a very real assault on us. How many times will they lighten our skin, remove our curves, make a rule about the kind of sportswear we use, before we realize it’s not a mistake at all.

When your President has been Black, your top athletes in damn near every sport are Black, our movies are winning the Oscars, our companies are thriving, our art is being coveted by some of the biggest design houses in the world, our names are appearing at the top of Fortune 500 rosters, and we are educating and performing at unheard of numbers… we are a threat to the powers that be that don’t appreciate diversity and inclusion in the world’s upper levels. White supremacy cannot exist without minority subjugation. So their “Sorry” is not often real, and we can’t be fooled by it. We have shut down whole businesses with our buying power and social influence… we can similarly insist that we all be included and valued and represented, across the color spectrum. But first we have to identify the racism and call it out, which effectively handicaps colorism. ” see if I care… good and bad hair!”

Light skinned privilege is real. It is also rooted in some of the most vile and disgusting truths about the way Black people in America and in the world have been subjugated, marginalized, and mistreated. It is typically experienced most strongly by Black women, because hair and skin color and standards of beauty are just generally not things Black men are judged based upon. But Black men are not immune nor unaffected. They are usually the main targets to the brain washing, based on the images they are fed through media. The privilege is really not a privilege at all… nothing is that is so deeply rooted in oppression. It is a weapon of war used against us. Until we accept this, we will continue to blame and lessen each other’s reality.

Being light skinned and having my heritage, my blackness, my “downness” questioned was not cool, and for many of us it was painful and isolating. Having your accomplishments lessened based on things that you had no control over, when you worked hard for those successes is hard. Even harder when your own people start to question you. Being brown skinned and being made to feel unattractive, lesser than and less desirable aesthetically, socially, romantically, or professionally caused damage to many of us that we still struggle to heal from. Being made to believe that who you are is somehow lessened based on your complexion, something some people seem to revere and others seem to hate, is a confusing and a detrimental emotional and spiritual space. We all owe each other more tenderness and acceptance of our reality. One is not more important or more traumatic than the other.

This privilege may be something some of us have, but it is definitely something many of us of us want no part of. Yet we are here in this space as a result of slavery, rape, racism, colorism, oppression, and degradation. The oppressed don’t want favor by the oppressor because she’s more like the oppressor in some extrinsic way. That has NOTHING to do with the oppressed. Yet, that same individual cannot knowingly and willingly take that favor to better her chances. My seat at the table must be properly earned.

I repeat, the “favored” oppressed is STILL OPRESSED! And the favor… is not really favor at all.

So stop it!

#teamrootingforeverybodyblack