Grief has become something of an old friend of mine. I am well versed in the matters of grief and the toll it takes on someone. It is something that many Black people are accustomed to. Grief is an inevitable part of the human experience. However, I believe that there is an extra part of grief that Black people have experienced and continue to experience for ages due to systematic oppression. We as a people have been dealing with the constant grieving of the things that we were robbed of.
Recently, I have seen more people only deal in matters of joy. They refuse to deal with anything that makes them feel negative emotions. Currently, there is a trend within the Black Diaspora where many people are putting emphasis on the joyous moments they experience. This is something that can be seen in a variety of current media and in the daily experiences of Black youth.
I used to wonder if this current shift in our culture was a case of “too much of a good thing is bad.” I used to question if we are neglecting the collective challenges that we as a people face in order to protect our peace. I used to question if we are just protecting our own individual peace to ignore the issues that we collectively face as a community.
I thought that the way people embrace Black joy but ignore everything else Black people go through is borderline hedonistic. What would happen if we were to completely ignore everything that is currently happening within our community right now? S— would simply hit the fan. How could we possibly continue to push for equality and equity if everyone just ignores everything for the sake of enjoyment?
I believe there is potential for us to experience a more balanced and individualistic kind of joy in the future. While celebrating ourselves and taking part in joyous moments is needed, we can’t just solely focus on that. To be frank, nothing would get done. We can still find joy while remembering all the struggles and hurdles we face as Black people. While grief is not the most pleasant experience, it is necessary to understand how far we have come and how much further we have to go. Without grief, we become oblivious to what is going on in the world around us and how it affects us.
Now I’m not saying that people can’t have fun or enjoy themselves. I’m not trying to police joy, we already have to deal with that enough in the world. I’m saying that we just can’t forget all the stuff that comes with being Black. If we do, it would prove to be fatal. There is such a thing as being unaware of your surroundings. This current phenomenon is that but on a global level. With the amount of social unrest going on in the world today, it’s shocking that one can even attemp to ignore everything.
The sad truth is, a part of being Black is to grieve everyday, even if you are not consciously aware of it. There is so much that we have gone through as a community. So much has been taken and stripped away from us, whether it be a loved one, an opportunity, our identity or even our innocence. Grief allows us to never forget what we fight for. It is a collective experience within the Black community. However, that does not mean that it shouldn’t have a place in the current culture of our community today. It should not be completely forgotten or ignored. When have you ever heard of something or someone suppressing something that led to a positive result? If we just refuse to grieve, it would be disrespectful to the people who came before us. Who will grieve for them if not us?
I thought our reluctance to experience grief would eventually lead to the decay of much of the progress that we have fought so hard to make. I understand that some people are tired of fighting. But does not mean that we can give up. We need to band together. If we let up, then years of hard work will go down the drain. There must be someone who is willing to do the work for the community. I’m aware that, this can be seen as a flawed frame of thinking. I understand that we have had hundreds of years of just grieving, it’s time for us to celebrate ourselves and all that we have accomplished. Grief and celebration can coexist.
There definitely should be some sort of balance between the two though. We must not grieve to the point of becoming apathetic to the world. Ignoring our struggles is a path to apathy. Apathy is a common tool of oppression. On the otherhand, we cannot only want to deal with joyous moments, as that can lead to apathy from a different end of the spectrum. These things are not mutually exclusive and shouldn’t be treated as such. While to be Black is to constantly grieve over how the world treats us, we don’t have to actively grieve forever.
To be Black is not just to grieve and suffer. To be Black is to celebrate and find pride in how far we have come. These things don’t have to be opposing sides of the spectrum. They should walk hand in hand. This will allow us to truly come together as a community and keep making great strides in racial equity and equality.