For some reason during this lock-down, I have immersed myself in old black and white documentaries. Films about activism, justice, African history, the black power movement and black cinema archives through ‘Reel Black’ on YouTube. I watched 13 (again), documentaries on black history, slavery and everything in-between.
As an Afro-Anglo woman, born and raised in the UK, black history has often been illusive to me. The schools didn’t mention it, our TV conveniently failed to acknowledge it and the British empirical dialogue, usually omits any mention of the diaspora created, from the webs that were woven all over Africa. Many scholars on global history say very little of the enormity of scale, when considering the global genocide of black bodies. A holocaust in itself.
As a woman, I am constantly reminded that in the country I have found myself in, I am not worthy. In the work place I have had to work hard to be heard, only to be patted on the back and over looked for promotions. But I am always reminded of how “valued I am”. Yes I am a commodity. Doors don’t quite open as far and tokenism is rife. As a black person, I know I have to fight. The layers of this objective perspective run through every aspect of life.
Being intuitive is both a blessing and a curse. You can see the wood for the trees and can separate the wheat from the chaff. As a passive observer (first contextualised by W.E.B Du Bois in his book the souls of black folk – published in 1903) I have always been able to feel the insincerity in people, vibrate like a talking drum. Trying to find my tribe in a tribe-less country is incredibly isolating.
What Martin Luther King did was try to make hay while the sun shone. His movement allowed him to unite people by breaking down barriers and looking beyond colour or race. His words were wisdom and that wisdom had salt. People valued what he stood for because despite everything he went through, he remained hopeful. He had a dream. His courage to speak of the injustices felt by the black community wasn’t rhetoric, it was soulful. He wasn’t afraid to speak the truth and risked his life to do so. His strength was emboldened and his speeches were heroic; and regardless of what race you happened to be, no man, woman or child could look within and not admire the fire inside of him to this day.
Yesterday was Martin Luther King day and his words and spirit still resonate 53 years after his assassination in 1968. I chose this quote because right now, in the middle of the most historic social experiment of all time, we can either run, walk or crawl but whichever route we choose to take or how we choose to get there, we still have a long way to go. So let’s look forward to a better and brighter future…..by any means necessary.