There’s something I don’t quite understand.
Why be proud of being black? How is this an achievement?
The natural color of skin: something you did not have to lift a finger to get, something you barely need to maintain.
I mean maybe Michael Jackson could be proud of his white skin: he almost nailed the art.
But myself, I’m black. I was born black. Just like I was born a woman. Just like I was born on the African continent.
I did not choose my blackness, my womanhood or my Africanity. I did not choose my family, or my birthplace. I did not choose my social status at birth, nor did I choose my looks.
“Pride (noun) /praɪd/: a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.”
Before anyone jumps to conclusions, I want you to stop and think: what exactly is supposed to make me proud of something I did not do anything to get? Are you proud of having two eyes or a full set of fingers? – I’m just grateful for that because it gives me some abilities that allow me to navigate more easily in the societies humans have voluntarily created this way.
So maybe I didn’t choose my black skin or my two black eyes, but I was born with choice.
As my preschooler son would say:
“I am a person and my skin is brown.”
I can choose to be who I am today. I can choose to be where I am now. I can choose to do what I do here. I can choose great friends with all their flaws and the strings they come attached with. I can choose what I will or will not do. I can choose to be proud of the good I see in people.
I can be proud of my father and my mother for being great parents.
I can be proud of my sisters and brother for their achievements. For making our parents proud and for carrying our family name, making sure it is perpetuated positively.
I can be proud of the good character, generosity and kindness of people I know.
I can take pride in seeing political, economic and ethical milestones being reached in my country of birth.
I can be proud of all the creativity in the world that allow me the versatility in styling my kinky hair, versatility for which I get complimented regularly.
I can be proud of the tasty recipes that my ancestors have come up with for everyone’s health and enjoyment until this day. I can be proud of the ingenuity of my forefathers which have contributed to making our world a more liveable place for all.
When looking at all this, I realise that it only makes sense. Why be proud of my blackness? I am not proud of my parents for the simple fact that they have the parental status, or of my siblings because they are siblings, or of my country because it’s a country.
I am proud because they are moving forward. They are evolving and trying to improve their today so their tomorrow can be better than their yesterday.
I am proud of values, of behaviours, of a mindset, of actions that speak louder than words. I am proud of belonging to the same circle and being a complete piece of an entity they belong to.
Which means in reality I’m not proud of being black.
I don’t think my pride emanates from the color of a skin I have and did not have any say in wearing. And if I had to choose, chances are I wouldn’t change it.
Because that black skin is charged with a strong history of great achievements; because that black skin is a testimony of many trials and tribulations from which my people emerged stronger and smarter, allowing me to be the person am I today.
I’m proud that we are able to fall and get back up, that we respect one another as much as we respect those who are different from us.
After all, we are one people with very different beings. We can disagree; and then agree to disagree. We have different personalities, beliefs and talents; we have different attitudes towards fate and different ways of expressing our common values. It makes the beauty of our diversity within our shared heritage.
And we do have some things in common: our culture, our core values and the color of our skin.
So yes, I am black. I am black and I am proud of who I am for what I am able to achieve today. For my people and those who came before them have shown a path to greater good. They have demonstrated that resilience, fairness, strength, intelligence and greatness are an integral part of me and it is up to me to put them to great use for my own good, the good of others, the good of this planet and that of those who will come after me.
I am proud of the achievements that my parents, uncles and aunts, cousins, brothers and sisters, from another mother or not, from a different generation or not, have carried in time to get me where I am today.
I’m proud they’ve shown me that leading by example is the best form of education. I’m proud of being entitled to associate myself with such great people.
And you know what? They just happen to be black.
It is just a major feature of my identity according to all the judgement and prejudice it receives.
– that being said, I love my blackness.