Though I never found out who he was quoting, Kenny (The Jet) Smith said something on one of the NBA conference final pregame shows that I thought was absolutely profound. He did not come up with the statement himself and he did give attribution, but I just missed it. If you happen to know, feel free to leave it in the comments. The statement is:
I may not be able to be Black in color, or Black in culture, but I can be Black in consciousness.
What a profound sentiment!
Now that so many things have gone on in the last week to draw our attention away (election intensifying, debates, COVID spread in Washington DC, etc.), I’m sure some of you have forgotten that there are still nightly protests going on to support the Movement for Black Lives and Black Lives Matter. We are being pulled in a million different directions by forces that wish to break us into pieces. It is so important to remember that structural racism is one of America’s original sins, eating away at our democracy and until we address it and right some historic wrongs, our country, our society, our idea of America will not truly thrive and may perish.
This is why that statement resonates with me. I will never know what it is like to be Black in America in color or culture. I can only ever be an outside observer. But I can work toward being Black in consciousness. A consciousness of anti-oppression, of distributed power, of mutual aid. And I’m just beginning to learn. I am an outsider, but not a co-opter. I want to listen and learn and help. I want to lift up and not control. I do not have much power, but that I do have I will use to support and amplify, not to judge through my white lens. We are all equals by measure of our common humanity.
So I invite you all to join me in becoming Black in consciousness.