When I discovered that I was black and
poor and unwanted and a problem, a
red pen mark on the color line, no one
cared—not even a whisper of reassurance.
I came into my blackness the exact
same way that I came into my manhood.
The path I took into my sacred rite
of passage is the same path I took crossing into
my sacred rite of blackness. There was no
safe-talk, no celebration, no one there
to praise me, no one there with arms stretched
out into the night to guide me; a newborn fawn
coming into life. I came into my
blackness shaking but balanced—an egg
in the bowl of a spoon. When I discovered
that I was black and disturbed and devalued and
depressed living among homeless faces
and moving against the gazes of
the unemployed, the sick, the drug-addicts,
the under-served youth, I could see that we were in
trouble. When I discovered that I was
black and that my ancestors will always
have bruised arms, scarred backs, delicate wounds, a
lost look in their eyes, I realized that the black
experience is unique and that if
I want to be beautiful I must push
against the boundaries of the black image,
of white supremacy, and learn to boldly love myself.
I must shift the paradigm, look at black
people and blackness with new dark brown eyes,
become an advocate of change, an advocate
of hope and love and peace for my brothers and sisters.
The Black Experience // J. Harris