It’s that time. The icons I grew up admiring are moving on from this physical reality. With Muhammad Ali’s passing, I remember the positive impact his ego left on the black community. Did everyone love him? Of course not. Many thought he was too bold, too brassy, and talked to much.
But I never did.
I loved his power and his ability to own that power. Ali was determined, focused and in a world that told him that he could not he rejected the rejection and he soared. Full on power with no apology.
I came across this Ali quote that I had never heard before:
“I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black. Confident. Cocky. My name; not yours; my religion; not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.”
Muhammad Ali 1970
Ali said this the year I was born.
Ali was a fighter in a time where a black man seemingly had no power and a black woman had even less.
This past spring, Beyonce’s Lemonade album celebrated the resilience of the black woman…able to create something sweet out of our collective trauma over and over and over and over again.
I love that about African-Americans. Whatever is thrown at us…we are able to, as Maya Angelou said…rise.
I’ve watched our first Black President and First Lady endure all sorts of disrespect relentlessly. America has always worked by attempting to keep black folks the place that the privileged class has deemed appropriate to them. The darker the skin the lower the class no matter how much money a black person acquires…that separation has been what has made America great for the middle and upper classes all these years.
As I traveled through South Florida I met white people who were in their late 60’s and older who remember the time that Donald Trump speaks of. A liberal Jewish man, retired democrat from NYC who now lives in Colorado even said to me, “I’m 73 and I think I lived through the best time of this country.” Retired Southerners and Northerners alike shared with me how their domestic help were black women. Women who were there when they woke up in the morning and went to bed at night. Oh how these old white folks loved these black women who raised them.
Black women who raised white children because they had to be working. Black women who raised white children because Black men were being pushed out of employment, or killed. Black women who raised white children in the north because they had to have two incomes in order to pay rent that was much, much higher to the redlining practices of white landlords. Black women who raised white children in the south because their husbands were working as sharecroppers, paying high debt on land to white land owners who paid them scraps and built their wealth on the backs of black men and women.
During this time, of redlining and segregation, Muhammad Ali knocked down white men and loudly proclaimed he was beautiful and was the greatest. Muhammad Ali was a strong black man who loved his black wife and invested in the black community and as a side effect, inspired White America.
Ali refused to fight and die in Vietnam. “Why should I go over there and fight and kill other brown people who ain’t don nothing to me?” Why fight the white man’s racist war? He stood up without apology. He stood in the face of ignorance as he floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee.
Folks are excited that now we have a woman as a presidential nominee for a major political party. I mean she’s a blonde white woman who grew up middle class and white with the privileges of whiteness. And the Republican one…that orange guy with the comb over and big mouth… he rallies the masses of racists who have been fuming ever since The Obama family stepped foot in the White house. They say they wanna build walls and make America great again. This great time for them when they could have their black help raising their children, cooking their food, taking care of their every need…for pennies. Yea, that was not a great time in America for everyone.
People say that they are leaving America if the Orange one I will not name becomes President.
I say, good. go. Cowards. If that Orange man is elected…I’m staying. Right. The Fuck Here. I will continue to live without apology acknowledging the greatness that resides in me always.
As the media spews out everything that says what black women are not and do not have… my living healthy, happy in abundance is a testimony of the truth of what black women authentically are. We live in a world where when a freak accident finds a black child in the hands of a 400 pound gorilla…the gorilla is shown more empathy than the child who suffered unspeakable trauma. Assholes online started a petition to charge the mother of the boy with murder…what does that say about the value of black lives in this country?
As a black person on this planet, what do you do, how are you supposed to feel, when it seems like the world is working so hard to tell you that your life is worth nothing?
My mother told that I was an early talker, I talking before I had teeth. Boyfriends have left me because they could not handle the content of my speech, my calling out racism and sexism instead of smiling sweetly and demurely saying nothing.
People like The orange republican can say whatever the fuck they want. They declare that they will be the nominee and BOOM it happens. They believe and it happens then why can’t I?
Why is it that this Free Speech only swings one way?
Comedians whine about free speech when they tell jokes that folks don’t like… what doesn’t free speech go both ways? If the audience does not like your joke…they can boo.
Ahh, but I’m getting off my point.
People have said if Trump gets elected they are leaving America.
If Trump gets elected, I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying right here. I’m staying right here and using my voice to speak for justice. Using my voice to inspire. Using my voice to heal. My ancestors did not build this country with the dream of a better reality for their children in order for us to just cut and leave when a challenge happens.
Now is the time for the next of us to stand up. The Kendrick Lamars, the Janelle Monaes the Kerry Washingtons, the Wendell Pierces, the Ta Nehisi Coates, The Michelle Alexanders.
Ali carried the torch and has passed it on. We Black people must always remember how brilliant, how beautiful, how resilient, how loving, how unstoppable we are and will always be.
“I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black. Confident. Cocky. My name; not yours; my religion; not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me. “
Muhammed Ali, rest in peace.