By Nicholas Brady
It’s a joy to be seen, in our wholeness.
Discourses focusing on pride run flat after awhile because they miss this joy. At first, it feels good to have your confidence boasted. When the world tells you that you are nothing, it is intoxicating to hear how great you are or once were. Then you realize, after the narcotic of pride wears off, that I am still stuck in the same situation and I still don’t love myself. The garb of pride can only cover your scars. We need care. We need love. Will you love my scars and all or are you trying to make me into some image of wholeness that is ultimately just that — an image? An image I know I cannot live up to. Sometimes we fail. Sometimes we fall down. Sometimes we are not strong. Sometimes I am running and there is nothing redeemable in that running. Sometimes I am just running for my life. Sometimes I cannot breathe. These scars are a part of my being. These hieroglyphics on my flesh are a part of my whole, I will not flinch in looking at them or you. I read pessimism and black feminism (and especially where they intersect, hopefully every time) because they refuse to look away from my scars and they refuse to stop loving us. We need to be seen and felt and touched and cared for. We need healing, we need what Professor Sharpe called for, “black sustainability” and “wake work.” We are scarred, we are hurt, we are broken and we do not need to cover that up. Love should be unflinching, care should be unflinching, analysis should be unflinching because I SEE YOU even (or especially) when the world does not and can not. I want my words to scream out I SEE YOU and I see this terrible world that refuses to see you and the graveyard it lives on and exists as.
I know I can do this in my words because Christina Sharpe showed me this morning in her presentation entitled “Black Life, annotated.” She said do not horde this knowledge, share its abundance. She not only said, but proved this. Words sometimes feel worthless, but when embodied we can see them for what they are — a medium of connection, the fabric of our “life lived in the presence of death,” the rhythm of our ontology, the wholeness of our being that is waiting to be dug out and dug into. We are because we be. We be because she defended our being, in the ever-presence of death. We are the abundance that our words can be. I know I can do this because she built words in the wake of our being.
Build words — monstrous words, beautiful words, difficult words, healing words, flawless words. Build words, build worlds. Even when words fail, build words. Black errors be black eras. Black failings be black filia, generations generating genesis. Work them words because we are, we be, in the wake.
Thank you Professor Sharpe, I am unflinchingly and gratuitously grateful for the gift of being you gave.