Am I black because my ancestors were born and raised in Africa?
This isn’t my ‘motherland’, this is my home. I breathe this air every day, I walk these streets every morning, noon and night. This is where I am from.
Am I black because my nose is large and my laugh loud?
These are gifts from my forefathers, preserved and proudly handed down from generation to generation.
Am I black because I find Madea hilarious?
Black on black humour, spotlighting the often exaggerated and though very familiar happenings within a society so unapologetically black, it snores in gospel hymns.
Am I black because I sometimes think in ‘Yes sirs’ and ‘No sirs’ and ‘thank you sirs’?
I’m a product of multigenerational conditioning. It’s singed into my genetic code now and it’s sometimes so synonymous with blackness, that our only way out is further into the western rabbit hole.
Am I black because I have to appear nonthreatening and non-invasive?
My smile has to be wide, my eyes bright, my hoodie off and my hands in plain sight. I have to be walk tall, not too tall, but tall enough to be seen, not noticed, but to not too…black?
Am I black because I can read this and not feel threatened?
Your existence, your voice, your anger and frustrations as well as your joy will not threaten me. I am not afraid of your meetings, I do not feel targeted by your grievances and your literature does not make me uncomfortable.
Am I black because my father has a stab wound, my uncle a gunshot wound and my grandfather…is no longer with us?
I was raised by wounded men who still fight even when the dust has settled and the bread broken. Their crocodile is still at large, very much alive and it watches them every day.
Am I black because I know my way around real curves?
The kind that only God himself can create, the kind that intimidate you, but were designed to nurture the future within supple rise and falls of their bountiful beauty.
Am I black because I can’t complain about poor service or a messed-up order out of fear of being thrown out for causing a scene?
Am I black because I’m always angry?
I was born with a chip on my shoulder. Every injustice, every argument, every wrong done to or around me is lighter fluid for my fire and boy is my fire all-consuming. I can never smile, I’d scream at a dead horse for being dead, because somehow…it must have done so because…well…I’m black.
Am I black because I’m resilient?
I don’t sunburn, I don’t back down easily and I’m rarely demotivated. All that I have is because I more than wanted it, I needed it. I built it with my bare hands, I even built all that you have with my bare hands. History has dehumanised me, but I’m still standing.
Am I black because I have to be ten times better to be half as privileged?
My spoon was never silver, my spoon never existed. It was always my hands.
Am I black because I have ‘white friends’ as opposed to ‘friends’?
People need to know that we’re different. It needs to be clear that the people I hang out with, the people are share my life with, the people I grew up with are not like me, they were never like me and I need to understand that. It’ll always be us and them…
Am I black because I try to dress so as to not fit the description?
My hands are never in my pockets, my hoodie is never on, my back is always ramrod straight and my clothes are always bright. A smile helps too.
Am I black because I can experience racism but I can’t engender it?
It’s my word, my scar, my inheritance.
Am I black because my consciousness believes so?
Am I a movement? Is my skin the flag, my history the memorandum and is my voice the chant? Am I an uprising, a force to be feared, a collection of experiences that demands vengeance? Or am I just a guy, born in South Africa, working his way up, understanding the existence of prejudice and working towards a better future for the people he loves?