First published July 2016
Black don’t crack though it is terrorized.
Black don’t crack though it is beaten.
Black don’t crack though it is stolen.
Black don’t crack though it is killed.
Black don’t crack though it was demonized.
Though it was advertised.
Though it was cheated.
Though it was feared.
Black don’t crack under pressure.
Black don’t crack in the struggle it faces.
The riches it supplies.
The slaves it relinquishes.
The souls it grieves.
Black don’t crack just as Selassie did not.
Just as Angelou did not.
Just as Ali did not.
When one sets out to climb something, whether it be a hill or a mountain, a career path or a glass staircase, a palm tree or a political platform, there’s only one direction to go, and that is up. Not straight, not right, not left, not sideways, but up. Anywhere but where one is standing the moment they decide to leave their sure-footed place and go somewhere a little bit higher.
Who knows why. Maybe that climb had been done somewhere before, by someone, in some magazine or movie. An inspiring feat. Maybe, it wasn’t inspiration that drove the climber…
In 1958, Nigerian poet and novelist, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart was released. The novel, written with a distinctly African gaze, traces the gradual demise of Nigeria’s Igbo society at the hand of European colonizers. The Igbo’s ability to hold onto cultural traditions and family ties gradually unravels at the arrival of European colonizers seeking to exploit and subjugate the Igbo people using the ever-wielded imperialist swords of religion and war.
Achebe’s work cemented the wise and truth of the proverb, “until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” Not only…
Each and every single moment of our lives we are presented with a choice. Be them large or small, momentous or mundane, consequential or cost-effective, they are offered to us like plastic plates at a buffet — endlessly. To brush or not to brush. To floss or not to floss. To smile or not to smile. To wear the blue shirt or the green. To go with the drop-top or the sedan. To forgive or not to forgive. To give in to a fleeting moment of passion or refrain from a lifetime of regret. To step up to the plate…
The power of a narrative is real. This is especially true of environmental narratives, which often paint people who live off the land as poor and struggling masses yearning to be saved and those who don’t as, well, civilized but slightly overambitious. That narrative should be called out for what it is: white, pale and stale.
I was force-fed a similar narrative in middle school when my “Ethiopian-ness” came up, not because anyone in my class knew Ethiopia was the cradle of all humanity or because they had heard of the rolling Simien Mountains, the deep crevices of the Danakil…
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