I am ecstatic! Today I walked over to Barnes & Noble during my lunch break and finally picked up Toure’s new book, “Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness?” I’m not exactly sure what ‘post-blackness ‘means just yet but rest assured I’ll know by later on tonight when I start this book. In celebration and anticipation I’ve been reading up on Toure online and see that we had some similarities in our backgrounds: we both spent much of our formative years growing up around white peers and being labeled as not black enough by our black peers. At first glance this may seem like a very simplistic approach to comparison but if you are black and have had the same kind of experiences you understand what I’m talking about. If you are like what the haile is she talking about, hit me up and we can pow-wow. So back to the lecture at hand, I was reading an article about Toure where he said he was not considered black enough by other black folks during his college years and it immediately took me back to my freshman year of college, when this black chick (she’ll remain nameless) asked me, “Why don’t you act black?”, in response to my declining to see a steel-drum band perform on-campus during black history month. The irony? She sounded like a stereotypical valley girl and exclusively dated white guys even though she rocked natural hair and traveled to Africa. Now it sounds like I’m limiting the definition of blackness (this is the kind of stuff Toure tackles in his book) but in all actuality she limited herself by trying to pull my ‘black card’ and simply underscored those things I could have chosen to judge her for. I was so angry and per usual (I’m getting better at this) did not challenge her but rather fumed and went back to my room where I wrote the following poem:
Why don’t you act black?
That’s what a righteous sister
told me once.
hot/cold rage engulfed my body.
What is it about my silence that offends you?
Afro, Braids, Bantu Knots, Locs
cocoa, almond, sienna, ginger, café au lait
your beauty is inherent
yet it took travels through
Ghana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Johannesburg
“You sho nuff black now”.
Sister– What has been your struggle?
how could that be?
My consciousness is not skin deep
it’s rooted within me
it cannot escape me
my mother and father blessed me with
it will never wash off
it will never rub off
it will never escape me
it shouldn’t have escaped you
Now that I’ve waxed poetic back to Toure’s book. Here’s why I’m excited, the Foreword Tour(e)ing Blackness by Michael Eric Dyson and the chapter titles, check them out: Chapter One: Forty Million Ways to Be Black, Chapter Two: Keep it Real Is a Prison, Chapter Three: The Rise and Fall of a Post-Black King (spoiler alert: he’s referring to Dave Chappelle), Chapter Four: “Shut up Toure! You Ain’t Black!”, Chapter Five: The Most Racist Thing That Ever Happened…, Chapter Six: The Blacker the Berry the Sweeter the Juice, But Nobody Wants Diabetes, Chapter Seven: How to Build More Baracks, Chapter Eight: We Are Quintessential Americans. I’m rubbing my hands together in anticipation. I’m going to start reading tonight with pen handy…oh yeah, there are going to be all kinds of notes in the margin so I can come back to those phrases that just beg to be repeated.