Last year, someone suggested in a tweet that I share my essay, “On Being Black.” My excuse, then, was that the timing was bad. I was in the middle of a major writing project. In an already ‘busy’ life, I didn’t have time to scour through file folders to find it and then retype it (the only copy I had was a scanned PDF version). But procrastinating one day, I searched it out and, after reading through it, thought, Share this? Absolutely not.
The essay stirred up a lot of emotion, and a feeling I’d, then, rather deny than acknowledge: that I’m still searching for my way home, trying to find my place in the world.
The world is changing, yet it’s also staying the same. And this essay — seventeen years after it first appeared — begs the question: have I changed or have I, too, stayed the same?
My first literary credit, “On Being Black” was published in the 2003 Winter Edition of Other Voices: Journal of the Literary and Visual Arts. I present here, having only corrected an obvious spelling mistake, the original published version.
On Being Black
From Being Black there is being. Being is, here, in the text of the formula derived long ago: existence precedes essence. Being is what is proper to man, dwelling in this world where the total of all actions undertaken by man are understood by man as being before itself and before others — actions that substantiate the whole of man in being, that do not call into question said whole, and, in addition, allow man, in being, to be with and without being. And being, then, within Being Black, is to re-veal itself as the motivating guide[-ance] beyond the passage in the course of Being Black. Black is not something that you define. Black is not something that you learn to be. Black is not something that you decide to be. Black is. Being Black just is. [Read more…] about On Being Black