For nearly 400 years, Black Americans have been living in captivity. The memories of our roots, languages, religions, and songs died when our grandparents were shackled across the Atlantic.
We try making homes, stories, and names for ourselves amidst our captors—believing that this frees us. Some of us are more successful at blending than others. We hide behind allies, education, causes and rehearsed smiles to show a different way to be. And when they’re not watching, we run.
Those of us who dream the ancestors’ dreams long for security. Walk the street without stares, without fitting the description, without rousing their suspicion, without being the exception. Our own community, pride, and identity.
Field of dreams.
The fragments of our scattered grandparents had to be pieced together so that we had something, anything, to shield us from this cold reality. But a quilt is just a blanket if it has no meaning.
Those of us who think we’ve inherited something special dance to unfamiliar tunes to keep warm. The only reason we don’t freeze to death is because we keep our blood circulating.
We’re not free.
The blanket that covers us was stitched together by unknown relatives, and there are holes in the fabric. We’ve cloaked ourselves with broken seams of a brutal history.
When will we fold up this old quilt and put it in the attic? What we thought gave us honor does not provide security. Our warmth comes from pain.
Life goes on.
We never knew the words to the songs. Once we stop reaching for a past that can never be repaired, and we get a new blanket, we might discover that we’ve been cold all along.