Black Existence

Thursday, February 28, 2019

I don't remember having heated discussions about my racial ethnicity as a child. We were taught by our parents to love who God made us to be. He made us Black. Thank God I'm Black. But we were in Brazil, a place where race is both celebrated and rebranded. One can choose to label their own skin color.

Many light skinned people I knew didn't pick Black. I thought my mother would do the same. She said, "no, I'm Black." I said, "what do you mean you're Black?" She smiled and went on to finish a chore or change a diaper.

We never picked up that conversation again but my mother continued to affirm her Blackness. I wouldn't connect the dots for at least two decades.

Recently, I was writing down the names of our Brazilian ancestors in our family tree. The geographical distance from Brasil hinders my children from knowing their extended family. I am determined to tell the kids about family who's been as they become familiar with family in this side of heaven.

We have a lot of relatives in Brasil and we are all close. I wrote down a bunch of names, enough to fill a small city. Then, we ran into a bunch of question marks. We ran into stories we heard about ancestors.

I told the kids that we think my dad's grandfather might have been a slave who came from Africa. My littlest one was so surprised. Her eyes got big when she realized we came from Africa. I loved her excitement. We all love the continent with all of our hearts. We had to finish our session because it was bed time.

I proceeded to ask my family to help me fill the gaps with names.

My brother and cousin took a DNA test to help us fill the cursed gaps of separation slavery brought us. Regardless of the cruelty my ancestors suffered, they persisted.

I am thankful that my Black existence is made of persistence, hope, faith and resistance. Persistence because my ancestors pressed on. Hope because they dreamed of a better future, which I am currently living. Faith because Jesus saved our family and He changed our lives. Resistance because racism still exists. We still suffer and we refuse to accept such injustice.

I don't know if I'll ever have heated discussions about my racial ethnicity with my children. I hope to teach them that God knew what He was doing when He gave us the gift of our Black existence.