The beautiful quilt of blackness

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I look at Romare Bearden’s “Patchwork Quilt” and I see blackness that is a beautiful collage, a fabric stitched together made up of many parts which have a deep spiritual meaning that many people want to see erased and torn asunder.

During times of pain and suffering it is too easy to forget that beauty, and to focus on all the negatives with which we are portrayed. When confronted by things racial in America, there are those who tell me they are colorblind. They attempt to negate me and mine and destroy all the meaning of my existence…to rob me of the joy of my being black.

Yes—joy.

The joy of the blues, of gospel, of jazz and hip-hop, of brotherhood and sisterhood, of mac and cheese on holidays with a side of greens and peach cobbler for dessert, of jump rope games, and of church ladies in their fancy hats.

They want to suck out the beauty and leave us with only the dregs.

The beauty of the lined faces of elders, and chocolate brown fuzzy-headed babies, of skin tones from palest ecru to redbone and ebony—we are a mixed bag palette like Joseph’s coat of many colors from the bible.

Do not tell me to abandon blackness, for my blackness was forged in struggle—solid as a rock of ages. My blackness is tender as a lullaby. My blackness is fierce and filled with humor.

We are the rumbling baritone of a Paul Robeson, the grace of Judith Jamison, the power of Barbara Jordan, the fierceness of Fannie Lou Hamer, the fire of James Baldwin, the courage of a Black Panther, the compassion of a King, the battle cry of a Malcolm, and the justice of Thurgood Marshall.

My blackness followed me from Africa and became something new on these shores.

Afro-Blue. Mongo Santamaria. Lyrics Oscar Brown Jr.

Dream of a land my soul is from
I hear a hand stroke on a drum
Elegant boy, beautiful girl
Dancing for joy elegant whirl

Shades of delight, cocoa hue
Rich as the night afro blue

Two young lovers dance face to face
With undulating grace
They gently sway, then slip away
To some secluded place

Shades of delight, cocoa hue
Rich as the night afro blue

Whispering trees, echo their sighs
Passionate pleas, tender replies
Lovers in flight upward they glide
Burst at the height slowly subside

Shades of delight, cocoa hue
Rich as the night afro blue

And my slumbering fantasy assumes reality
Until it seems it’s not a dream for two for you and me

Shades of delight, cocoa hue
Rich as the night afro blue

Oh, shades of delight, cocoa hue
Rich as the night afro blue

Shades of delight afro, afro blue

We are a patchwork of delight, pride, passion and dignity.

We are black, beautiful and glorious.

Amen.

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7 Comments

  1. So much to be proud of, Dee. Your heritage is rich and your people are glorious.

    I follow a guy on Twitter who is reporting on the protests and the killings and the injustice everywhere. His name is @deray and he signs off every day with “I love my blackness”.

    :)

    • For many years (and it continues) black people have been taught to despise our own blackness – so we not only have to battle white racism – but our own colonized mentality

      Sigh

      Thanks for sharing deray’s sign off

  2. She walks in beauty, like the night
    Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
    And all that’s best of dark and bright
    Meets in her aspect and her eyes;
    Thus mellow’d to that tender light
    Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.

    One shade the more, one ray the less,
    Had half impair’d the nameless grace
    Which waves in every raven tress
    Or softly lightens o’er her face,
    Where thoughts serenely sweet express
    How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

    And on that cheek and o’er that brow
    So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
    The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
    But tell of days in goodness spent,—
    A mind at peace with all below,
    A heart whose love is innocent.

    Lord Byron, CLXXIII.

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