(written by Fatma, you can find her on IG @fatmashallo)
A grand tree, whose roots reach every corner of the world. My blackness is a tree which has stood tall for all of time. The world has always known us, and we all share a history so rich and thick full of shared strife and struggle. We have stared down the same barrels and felt the same fear – and felt the same courage.
My blackness means thinking about people’s lingering looks, that seem to be upon me a second too long. Their piercing eyes cutting deep through you and making you feel like you have a sign above your head – am I the latest bit of entertainment? I have never thought about how deeply those one second lingers punch me in the gut, until I sat to write this. An action barely noticeable and slight yet stabs you in the same injured spot every time.
Living opposite lives on a double-sided coin, my blackness is flipping between heads and tails as needed, as required by company. Catching myself in two minds and seaming them right back together. My blackness is not something that needs to be watered down, made more palatable for the whitewashed eye. It is a commodity to be eternally proud of, a jewel in its own right to be celebrated. It deserves centre stage, always to be the star of the show, as my story, my experiences and my memories would not be the same if I was any different. I am who I am because I am black. I am so thankful to be a part of a beautiful patch of people that find joy in connecting with each other through a shared life. We congregate and bond and melt into each other to form this splendidly spun web, a web that is home to us all.
My blackness is absolutely walking into a room, scanning, hunting for any face that looks like mine, and if I find one, exchanging a knowing look and smile. Being tapped into a frequency only we have access to. Feeling that familiar sense of kinship and family despite being total strangers. You just seem to…gravitate towards each other. It feels safe and warm, like returning to a place you know well.
That is what my blackness means to me. A familiar nest where the same vein runs through an astonishing number of people, a spectacular sprawl of shared experience that makes me feel seen, heard, and valued. My story holds meaning in this space, my words carry weight, and I can rest knowing I can lean on the collective. Our true power is in each other and that is what my blackness means to me.