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What is "The Body Black?"


Recently I decided to coin the unified condition of blackness in America, the “body black.” Those of us who are members of this group have one thing in common: we are American black people living within and navigating through the murky confines of white supremacy in America and attempting to steer clear of its most effective weapon, the system of racism. Of course, it is actually impossible to steer clear from that which affects every area of human activity for American blacks, and I must admit that I am being a tad bit facetious about the use of the words, “attempting to steer clear.” And even though the power system’s dynamic has changed to the extent that the rights and privileges of opportunity and justice are now apportioned to a degree, as opposed to the outright denial of these intangible tangibles, rights and privileges such as equality, equity and individualism are still lofty, existential goals as yet unpracticed or actualized. You may ask why I included individualism in this matrix of rights and/or privileges to which we aspire but as yet have not been ascribed. You may say, “But, I am an individual,” or “I am my own person.” The fact is, that in reality and in terms of humanity, you are an individual person. That is a right ordained by the God with whom you believe or the Universal Source, whatever your belief. However, in terms of the system of racism and what is allowed and what is not, you aren’t. Not yet:

Not as long as there is a system in place that can dictate your existence on this Earth.

Not as long as people can create and destroy your character without even knowing who you are.

Not as long as you can be obliterated on the perception of another human being that you are a threat.

There are even more “not as longs” that I could add, but those are not the point of this essay, and there is actually something beneficial we can consider within this privilege of individuality, in terms of how we may tend to forego the tender embrace of it:

we are one. For good or bad, with all of the psychosis and codependence which may be inherent within this unity, we love, we shame and we blame each other – in unison. We may differ on the finer points of our lives and may attempt, on a limited basis to exert some form of individuality among ourselves, but unless we have completely divorced ourselves from ourselves – I won’t dignify those folks in this writing – we are together in our love and hate for ourselves, our collective condition, our successes and our failures. We rejoice in our triumphs and we mourn our defeats.


We are the Body Black

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Copyright 2020 Cynthia Alease Smith, Ed.D.