Monday, November 9, 2009

Bang Bang, I'm Dead!

I am a Black man. I am not allowed to love. I can sex up, dribble a ball, roll dice, and talk smack. But I do not have the luxury of expressing myself in a way that makes me a whole human being. I am merely fragments of myself, longing for emotional rescue from the hands that prevent me from becoming an individual. I do not yet know my name, though there are several words to describe me— buck, stud, mack, nigga; and dog, thug, boy, nigga. Words that limit my voice and movement, and help shape the contours of my masculinity. I am the new version of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, disheveled and exposed for the sole convenience of the media and anglo-centered research whose face is lost in exaggerated stats. I am brilliant only in my swagger but arrogant when I attempt to defy my confinement. I am not even allowed to love my brother. A burden I manage to turn into an art form, if not everyday habit. I am forced, however, to love strangers who keep me chained to their perceptions of me. For my reverence is not necessarily in how I survive my struggles but in the things I never say; things I am not permitted to say. I am hood. I am not hood. I am somewhere between what I think I am and who I long to be. I am everyone’s terror. I am everyone’s sexual objectification. It all depends on how much I tell my mirror when no one is around to judge or stifle me. I am resilient, yes, but not afforded the right to reinvent myself in a manner that reveals my true nature. I do not have a true nature. I do, of course. But it is practically illegal for me to be a man when bombarded with both the sexual obsessions of racist White folk and the buffoonery that comes with confusing street culture for Black pride. These generational attacks infest my natural ability to walk on air, since I am so much more than the caricatures that bind me and far more nurturing than even my sister credits me with. For she loves the possibility of me, but not me. She made that clear when I was but a child, not yet proficient in the language of silence and withdrawing, when she chastised me for crying. She said what everyone tells me, Man up or be ridiculed; sometimes given away. And so I man up, even if it means suppressing my right to simply be; to abide by her standards and unrealistic expectations which in turn helps determine how distant I am with my son whose own tendency to avoid any form of intimacy is a result of my futile attempt to please her, if not reach her. So we both man up to avoid the rejection and total castration, placing video games and gangster mentality over real fatherly connection. The kind of closeness that is expected from all other fathers, except me— the americanized Black man, conditioned to think with his gun and not his heart. Sons do not sit on their fathers’ lap. They do in Cuba. Sons do not kiss their fathers hello. They do in Europe. Sons are not held by their fathers. They are in Africa. And sons do not answer back I love you to their fathers. Not cool. Not manly. Not brolic. Not nigga at all.

I am a Black man. An enigma of sorts, basking on the stage of an elaborate play and all the while not knowing for sure where to stand and how to stand it. I can recite lines from an incorrigible Rapper and fulfill the prophecies of the deadbeat father, but I am discouraged from seeing my life beyond the hype. New terminologies give way to new dichotomies— a baldie, a fade, a shape up, locks and waves, cornrow, caesar, locks. Words that typically define barbershop conversation yet offer no solutions to community denials. To some, I am still the sleeping giant. To others, I am merely in the way; and I pretend to know the difference. If I come to resolving my disposition; if I am given the right to reveal who I am behind the masks then settle it as I see fit, then I would feel safe enough to say that I, too, love and that I cherish the hands that do not exploit me but, rather, provide me with the kind of hold that fully celebrates me. For I am the focal point of discussion at every state of our union and still, my Family refuses to see me. I am divided. I am divided between fleeing into the arms of outsiders who are willing to help me discover my true self and fulfilling the illusions of the very people who named me.

I am a Black man. I am not allowed to love. Just trucks and saddle, and bang bang, I’m dead!

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