And I don’t see a period of “rest” in my future here on Earth
Did you know that in Martin Luther King Jr.’s last 31 hours of life it is said he was exhausted, depressed, and terrified of dying?
I can imagine. It had to be demanding living Black in this hostile White country. It had to be demanding daring to have a dream for his people in this hostile White country. It had to be demanding doing his nonviolent civil rights work in violent times.
I think it’s safe to say that Martin Luther King Jr. was heart- and bone-weary.
When I came to this country from the Caribbean at age 11, I was like Adam and Eve who had no knowledge of their nakedness in the Garden of Eden until the snake “enlightened” them. That is, I had no knowledge of my Blackness as a liability in my early childhood. You see, back then and for most of my early adult life, I experienced myself first as a human being, then as a female, and then as an afterthought, Black. In other words, being Black was a tertiary fact of my humanity.
But now —
I’m bone-weary living in a White country where there’s always another news story about someone who looks like me who is dismissed, who is violently mistreated, or who is brutally and senselessly murdered.
I’m bone-weary that in the United States’ General Election 2020 over 70 million everyday citizens — too many of which are wannabe “White masters” — voted for racist, elitist politicians. And this happened even after these politicians revealed themselves to be demented, biased, and corrupt.
I’m bone-weary that “White masters” on both sides of the aisles are still a majority in Washington, D.C. and with lifelong appointments on the Supreme Court.
I’m bone-weary and dispirited living in a White country where mentally ill Black people have become the foolish foot soldiers and minions of racists and White Supremacists. Yes, I’m looking straight at you Candace Owens and Tim Scott and Larry Elder and my stupid Aunt Juliet in Florida.
I’m bone-weary and confused as to why the White Hollywood power structure seems so comfortable with White actresses co-starring romantically with Black actors. This after decades of lynching Black men for even glancing in the direction of White women.
I’m bone-weary and indignant as to why the same White Hollywood power structure seems simultaneously opposed to Black actresses, especially those who present 100% Black, co-starring romantically opposite White actors. I’m bone-weary believing — no, knowing — that White Hollywood is sending concealed messages to undermine my self-worth and value as a Black woman. So no, I will not watch ANY movies or TV series with the Black man-White woman romantic blend until the Black woman (who presents Black)-White man blend is equal in number.
I’m bone-weary with the lies and damn lies that People of Color are lazy, shiftless, and worthless. My ancestors weren’t lazy and shiftless when they picked cotton, harvested tobacco, and cut sugar cane from sun up to sundown for centuries. In fact, despite centuries of infantilization and the vicious, dehumanizing obstructions White America threw in the path of the Black collective, they still managed to build communities like Rosewood and Tulsa.
I’m bone-weary living in a White country where every generation of whiteness cleverly reinvents more ways to perpetuate systemic racism. And I’m bone-weary of how this country continues to execute attempted murder on my humanity and the humanity of other marginalized groups.
I’m even bone-weary when I buzz cut my hair
Yes, I’m bone-weary that I can no longer buzz cut my hair in apolitical peace. Yes, buzz cutting my hair has gone from apolitical to decidedly political. Back in 1992, when I first freed myself from the tyranny of hair, my sole purpose for cutting all my hair off was to release myself from the high maintenance of relaxing my hair and to expand my own concept of what it meant to be lovely.
Not one speck of politics was wrapped up in my initial decision. I just wanted to stop spending an entire day off — from the start of “Good Morning America” to midway through “General Hospital,” the last soap opera of the day — in a beauty salon. I wanted to end the torture of stewing under a hot hair dryer for 90 minutes. I wanted to get caught in an impromptu rain drizzle and not worry about my hair going limp or frizzing up.
That was then, this is today.
Today, I still sport a fade or buzz cut — it has been the best beauty decision I’ve ever made. But since 2020, when I buzz cut my hair, I do it for all the reasons I mentioned before and for political reasons too.
Now, with every stroke, I take great pride as the clippers shear hair from my head. Samson from the Bible may have found his strength in the length of his hair. But I find my strength and some measure of wholeness as I shear away my hair and embrace not only my Blackness but also distance myself away from the condescending, one-note “ideal” of White beauty and its imagined superiority.
Even though there’s so much more I could share, let me end here, because, well, I’m bone-weary. So —
No, I’m no Martin Luther King, Jr.
What I am is a human being who is a woman who is Black. I’m one of the “Negros” for whom King fought and sacrificed his future. It has been 53 years — over a half-century — since this civil rights superhero was silenced with a single shot to the face from a Remington .30-06 hunting rifle.
And after all this time, I’m still exhausted, disheartened, and heart- and bone-weary.