“I swear to the Lord
I still can’t see
Why Democracy means
Everybody but me.”
| Langston Hughes
Nobody represents me.
We can only represent ourselves and even then, we may not show up—even with our hands in and up. We are always running behind, stuck in societal traffic and unable to move beyond the speed of those ahead of us. Rubber- necking, we slow down and stare at the crashes caused by those who cut in line.
“Is anybody hurt?” We don’t wait to hear the answer.
We only look out for ourselves and still, we come up short. Scratching and scraping up pieces of our identity, we are still piecing ourselves together. We think that we are not enough; this is why we lump ourselves together— as if I am not enough unless I am one of them.
To be sure, “I am because we are.” Ubuntu. But even when we are not, I still am. “We, the people” are my equal. I am my own country. I am always in the majority. There is nothing minor about my identity.
I am solid apart from solidarity, that is whether or not you agree with who I am to be.
We say that we know what we want but we don’t ask for it or do what is required to make it happen. Instead, we make excuses for ourselves and excuse ourselves from the room, from the table, from the moment saying, “This is not the right time. We will do it or get it or make a move the next time.” But, every second of the day is yours and it will submit to you if only you would take it into your hands. It is what you make it.
You could see it so clearly if you were inside yourself versus being beside yourself, living your life in comparison to someone else. We do not even claim our own bodies until they measure up. Instead, we live life estranged from who we are right now, convinced that she has not arrived yet. More so, we avoid ourselves and leave her up to someone else. They will take care of it.
But we know what is right. We know what has been left up to us.
And this is not about taking a chance on us or even a leap of faith. This is about believing in yourself, in desiring to know who God created you to be. This is about two feet planted firmly on the ground, claiming every inch that your feet tread as your own. This is about deciding to enter the world every day as if you belong—not to people or places or things because they don’t always stay or fit or cling. Regardless of what is attracted or attached to you or what you claim as part of your identity, that you belong to you. Naked and unashamed, seek to exist as if beloved is your first name.
If we are to be heard, then we must not wait for an audience. Start talking to yourself. She will need to hear it first. He is the one who needs to be convinced of who we are and what we must do with our lives. This is not the time to ask for volunteers. We will need to do this work of self- discovery alone.
People often ask how I live apart from race. It is all around us but I have chosen not to take it in or to continue to take it into consideration when having discussions about myself. Eureka! The sociopolitical construct of race, capitalism and other ways that we pay to play were never meant to support democracy. They were created to ensure that no one ever heard from me.
I stopped pledging allegiance to the American flag in high school. When I would not put my hand over my heart, I was sent to the principal’s office where I explained that I would only pledge allegiance to God. Colin Kaepernick took a knee while I took my seat after that. It was agreed that I had a right to choose who I would be loyal to. I separated myself from the state as church while still a teenager. I found suspicious this theology of American identity, the conversion narrative that included lost tongues and last names changed.
This new creation has always been more of the same and the same as race.
America has never represented me or the people stole from land and then transported across the deep blue sea. America has never been a democracy but one of personal interests and special interest groups right from the start. And that I would swear to and cross my heart.