Last night, I went out to Cascade Skating Rink (you saw it in ATL, if you didn’t know it as a cultural landmark) to celebrate a great friend’s birthday.
Something about being in the skating rink watching people just show off how fly they are, hang with their friends, laugh and dance with their partners filled my heart with pride. The varying styles for voluminous Afros to wet and wavy weaves. The Brooks Brothers brothers to the Adidas track suits. There was this expansive representation of Blackness all on the floor skating to Barry White or Migos or Junior M.A.F.I.A. or Frankie Beverly. It was breathtaking.
One of the greatest things about aging has been my increased appreciation of Blackness in every aspect. My family, as wonderful as they are, has always played by the rules of respectability which guided a lot of my younger thoughts. I was prone to making grand statements about how this or that would set back the race. But as I’ve matured, I learned to see the uniqueness of my people and to treasure who we are and who I am.
Things like skating rinks and barber shops were cultural and social centers in the days of segregation. The distinct taste of the food we make and the techniques we use are products of perseverance and poverty. The way we dress, the way we move, and the way we express ourselves delights me. It’s distinctive.
That’s what makes our culture so appealing. We thrive in adversity. We celebrate when there is little reason to do so. We live our lives with a freedom that should be celebrated, not stifled.
In this time where we have to take to the streets just to ask for basic human rights and justice, I’m going to continue to champion Blackness in all of its forms. They may not all apply to me but I refuse to cherry pick which aspects I deem “acceptable” for people and a system that doesn’t give a fuck about us.