Things I Love About My Black Culture
Updated: Feb 20
This is my story. But it may help you understand my culture better. This is a list of quintessential things that I have grown to know and love about the depths of Black culture as I have experienced it. This list is not the collective voice of all Black people. Neither was this list made to make anyone else feel anything other than my joy.
Humor is (and has been) our most efficient coping mechanism and countermeasure for the injustice and dehumanization we see every day. But on the other side of the humor is an almost constant anger. James Baldwin was right. “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a state of rage almost, all of the time…” Just when I was recovering from the murder of Ahmaud Abery, George Floyd was murdered, etc. etc., and more etceteras. The scab on our hurts never has time to harden. So it’s a daily act of resistance to fully lean into joy. And that’s what we’ve collectively decided to do. My ancestors decided that bondage was a physical condition, but they would not allow it to be a spiritual one. We are very aware of the duality of this joyful existence. But as racist tropes and racially divisive factions proliferate, so does our joyful resistance (Yes, Black Twitter!). Our joy often seems to come with strings attached. But most times, we are able to frolic, laugh, and love anyway.
I was born into the coolest club possible, with its own set of rules and its own well-defined and academically quantifiable language (see: African American English). Our collectivist nature demands that we take personal ownership for the pain and/or success of Black people around us. The next part of that Baldwin quote from #2 is, “...And part of the rage is this: It isn't only what is happening to you...” It’s also what is happening to other Black folks around us. When each Black person is gunned down by the police, we feel it. Because we, as a people, feel very deeply connected to each other. Because we, as a people, feel very deeply connected to each other. Every time another proud Black woman calls me “sis,” my day is made.
Most every single thing we do is an artistic and creative expression of ourselves. From the time I was little, my Mama (like many other Black mothers) challenged me not to copy the trends of the day but to redefine them as my own. We put our personal stories on display when we choose our clothing. Our hair. Our home decor. That’s why our present-day cries for cultural appropriation are vast and loud. After having so much stolen from us over the centuries, we are super protective of our artistic expression. We often feel that other cultures “want our rhythm but not our blues.”-Nadelene (@nadaleennatasha, Twitter 2018). (See: Justina Miles kill her Super Bowl performance)
I love being Black.
When I say this, I am saying that I love having inside jokes about our seemingly singular set of childhood experiences. I love that there is an innate sense of belonging that I feel when I am with people who I know speak my language and understand my experiences. I love the creativity that I have been empowered to display every time I walk out of the door. I am hopeful that you will see yourself in our unfailing love, but also in our seemingly never-ending heartache. This is my culture.
What are the similarities and differences between my experiences and your cultural experiences?
If you are not Black, what other questions do you now have about Black culture? How could you find additional, credible information?
If you are a Black person, what would you add to this list? Which of these do not ring true with your experiences as a Black person?