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In the age of tomfoolery, we must see Black genius

March 28, 2017

by Jacqueline Bediako

Jacqueline Bediako is pictured with a protester in New York City on President’s Day. – Photo: Tuyet Huynh

With President Agent Orange sitting in the White House surrounded by his harem of small-handed Klansmen, we must understand that this homogenous group of fascists is intent on wreaking havoc on intellectual strength. We cannot sink into the depths of mental despair and spiritual neglect.

This is exactly what they want.

The tyranny of a totalitarian regime and the suffering and oppression that ensues is nothing new to the Black psyche. Being shut out while being locked in, being appreciated while being excluded is no novelty. We know what it feels like to be shunned and reprimanded simply for existing.

We know that criminalization, torture and geographical isolation are interconnected evils designed to keep us in check. We know what it means to be killed as we sleep, walk, eat or watch TV. In our narrative, a seat at the table doesn’t necessarily mean we get the respect and adulation we deserve. Micro aggressions are created to exploit our vulnerabilities and fracture a solid mind.

We know what it means to be rendered unworthy, stupid or invisible. I still remember when a petite blonde girl practically sat on my lap in a coffee shop and then apologized, stating she didn’t see me there.

We are seen, albeit in a compartmentalized manner, when we fit the profile for a criminal or when we do not conform to the stereotype. We’re seen when we emphasize Black feminism or oppose police brutality. We are seen when we intellectualize and strategize as a means to our own liberation. We are seen when we demand reparations or justice.

But although we are seen, we are not seen completely.

We do not wish to be seen conditionally. Blood should not have to drip from our ears before people take note. We should not have to die before people realize we were alive.

We are here, we’ve been here and we deserve access to human rights just like everyone else – food, healthcare, education, transportation and cultural stimulation are things that should simply be ours.

We do not wish to be seen conditionally. Blood should not have to drip from our ears before people take note. We should not have to die before people realize we were alive.

The decrepit nature of our surroundings is conveyed in Jay Z’s song, “Liquor store on every corner fuck us up.” These lyrics remind us of the detrimental effects of living in an impoverished community – a corollary of systemic racism.

The injection of fast food, alcohol or immigration raids into our communities is intended to do just that, fuck us up. The slow annihilation of our physical and spiritual form is also an abuser of Black genius.

But Black geniuses use higher level reasoning to imagine an alternative and prosperous Black future. Here, the intentional destruction of the Black psyche is challenged with a visionary platform of resilience and freedom.

There is something liberating about saying, I will not lie down and let you crush me into nonexistence. I will not accept your definition of the limits I am presumed to possess.

My strengths are limitless.

I am a beautiful, Black genius.

But Black geniuses use higher level reasoning to imagine an alternative and prosperous Black future. Here, the intentional destruction of the Black psyche is challenged with a visionary platform of resilience and freedom.

For this reason I will build organic gardens on rooftops; I will dance across a stage that breathes fire; I will stay because I have a right to be here; I will make and model my own fashion designs; I will string words into a tapestry of knowledge; I will sing tunes that haunt quiet minds; I will send rockets into space; I will win the ‘triple crown of acting.’ I will perform miracle surgeries; I will raise a family despite being backed into a corner; I will read everything; I will feed those who organize; and I will set trends that others rush to follow.

I will envision a future in which Blackness means freedom; tall glass homes perched on top of mountains, occupied by Black people stirring stews which have been brewing for hours, wearing lace gowns and laughing like the day just started. In this world, every home has a library spewing the words of thinkers like Angela Davis, Alice Walker and Audre Lorde.

Minds are enriched by Black intellectual thought and a firm grasp of identify. Black people fly rockets to red planets and exit via purple mats, which roll out slowly like tongues. Black people are all over the universe: thinking, creating, loving and growing.

Here, oppression is non-existent and Black genius is exalted. In fact, every month there is Black Genius Ball where men and women whisper over the low hum of music.

This is a world among multitudinous worlds, which I must contemplate in order to survive.

My Black genius is all-encompassing magnificence and it will see me through the mud of tomfoolery.

Jacqueline Bediako is a Ghanaian writer, teacher and organizer who was born in London, England. After completing her undergraduate studies in England, Jacqueline moved to America. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, and has called New York City home for the past nine years. Her work focuses on race, politics, feminism and the education of students with disabilities. Follow her @jb2721.

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