The forever learning Black man
It is no secret that being Black has been made out to be bad, dehumanised and means that you are forever a suspect. It is on the day as I wake up in Shenzhen one of the many cities in China, that being Black reminded me that people like me are forever made to learn.
Where I’m from, on the Southern-most tip of Africa, just like many other African families on the continent, eating with your hands is not only a part of our tradition, it is extremely enjoyable. Some would rightfully ask what this has to do with a Black man forever having to learn. Well, if you would indulge me with your imagination along with your knowledge, I will use this simple and relevant example that applies to a majority of Black people, regardless of caste.
Eating is something we all need to do. However, in different parts of the world, people use different methods to consume their food. The Black man, who has endured slavery, colonisation and other forms of oppression, finds himself having to learn and compete in education systems, laws and even dinner tables set by ethnic groups other then themselves. Before you get the idea that this is about what other people did to Black people, please erase that thought as this is only based and directed at the forever learning Black man.
You are an accountant, a lawyer, the CEO and even the President of your country, however when you sit and enjoy something as simple as a meal, you are reminded that regardless of what you are and who you represent, when you eating at a dinner table you can’t just dig in, you’re not entitled to the specific piece or amount of meat. You are to uphold a set level of dignity, because eating with your hands is definitely not an option.
My morning has awoken the very idea and tradition that regales of where in the world I am – I am first and foremost Black and then everything else. I owe this enlightenment to my fellow Chinese friends, who every night, cook and set out a meal in which we all dig in from the central part of the table. I have yet to eat a meal even in restaurant (unless in Western establishments) where my meal is dished up and severed to me from the kitchen. Even after all the dinners I have enjoyed, nowhere have I used a fork, its chop sticks all the way. The Chinese culture is so strong it has the forever learning Black man struggling but willingly learning how to eat with chops sticks in every corner of the globe.
The forever learning Black man needs to respect and understand that we are first and formost Black and then everything else, regardless of our caste. When I return home, I am offering my father the pieces he always deserved and I am throwing away my knives and forks, I am to dig in and enjoy being Black. It is undoutable a single and what some might say insignificant gesture, however it’s a gesture that will reminded me everytime I eat, that I am a Black and forever having to learning and accept my traditional values and respect for my culture.
We will forever learn new technologies, laws, and cans and can-nots of the world, so why not relearn daily to be Black than ever before, as means to assert the African culture and identity in the global village that we are now a part of?
Please share if you believe and comment on other ways we can assert our Blackness.