I just watched half of an excellent program, tracing the human genome back to our roots. The idea that race doesn’t exist inside of our DNA is somehow very pleasing to hear, though I’ve known it for years.
I was laying awake in the middle of the night last night, thinking of all of the African art and texts I managed to collect over the years and no longer own. Sir Raven would have loved some of it and its really only in the context of thinking of what she would have enjoyed having around her that i think of what I once owned.
Anyhow, I thought it was a matter of humor that when I tutored in areas where I was the only white person around, I was always in good company because their walls inevitably contained portraits of a white Jesus. Some homes features white saints. One was a living room which was entirely white, save a huge colorful portrait of Mary that made me gasp it was so beautifully done.
If they had come to my house, they would have seen black Jesus figures and black angels, and African masks all living together. Statues of the Goddess were stone. I did have one Mary bust, with a slightly broken nose, as a nod to my childhood roots, while everything else was a nod to my human roots.
Actually, some students did come over the years. One kid made me laugh til I cried when he noted the art, nodded approvingly, gave me a huge hug and told me that he knew I was really black. When I told him that everyone came from Africa his eyes were huge and he didn’t quite believe me, which was fine.
I wondered to what extent my life long attraction to these things, black women in AME churches who mothered me, and my mother’s assertion that I would grow up and marry a black man were a nod to me being on the path to Sir Raven.
The show I watched also reminded me of some research I read several weeks ago, which considered that submissive behaviors are less a personality trait and more of an adaptive trait or characteristic. Some submissive people survived. The idea is that there is likely a wiring that is inherent in submissive people and then nurture can exacerbate it. That makes sense because I’ve known plenty of people who had similar violent childhood experiences to my own and they grew up to be people who were profoundly uncomfortable in any types of submissive expressions.
Sir Raven and I were talking about the journey into slavery the other night in bed. Though I have often heard people remark that it is on par with the kind of commitment you make to your children, I have found that we disagree. Parents know that from the time children can communicate they are happily asserting themselves. We know their favorite toys, colors, activities, characters. From the time they can toddle off, they are moving farther and farther away from our influences and on their journey to independence. That is our parental goal and obligation, to form people who are successfully independent.
Slavery is almost the opposite of the parenthood journey. We are moving closer and closer to being interdependent and malleable. Being able to see that we might have what we think is a better idea or a better way of going about something and willing to put it aside. In some homes, you might be encouraged as a slave to express it if you know your Master is about to make some kind of error or if you have a way that is better. In this house, it is largely considered just a tool at her disposal. The trick is, she may or may not use my limited areas of expertise. It’s my job to be okay with that and to know how to offer my skills in a way that feels right to her.
There are times it feels like she has a bit of a love/hate relationship with my body of knowledge. She affectionately refers to me as “book” but doesn’t always want research cited from memory. I can get very excited by learning and forget that not everyone wants to hear the minutia of data on a project i’m working on. 🙂
I’ve mostly learned how to pull back on that one, though i’m still finding a feeling of balance there.
The path of slavery is often about balance to me.
I tend to default to too quiet and I think it makes me seem overly verbose when I do speak. i’m still looking for the right balance there. I realized I don’t have it when I felt like I wanted credit for spending days quiet or being happy to only speak as much as i’m invited to by Sir Raven. The very fact that I wanted credit, wanted her to acknowledge this, makes me think that I need more balance there.
The journey is good here. I think I can see where we both are developing traits that are complementary and stronger for our journey together. From the human journey to my personal one, you can’t ask for better than that.