So after pouring over both readings I had to go with my gut. Though I
found Wynter's reading more than enlightening and I am sure I will
read it numerous times, it was DuBois that illicited a moving response
from me. Being that I know the Professor Gumbs personally I have taken
the liberty of responding less "academically" and more like me.
Dear Mr. DuBois,
As I read through your writings a second time I am struck by physical awakenings. My eyes raise to Assata’s words hanging on my [wall] is just a wall...” Gentle croons from The sounds of Blackness, “Black Butterfly...Freedom comes with understanding who you are” kiss my ears, and a faint scent of coco mango reminds me of me.
This morning I wake, aware that the world you exist in pushes me to analyze, de and re-construct your words to argue for or against views written long ago, yet clenched firmly too today, and my body says not again. For I am, we are all enough.
How can my very breath be a problem, this space I occupy, be some mysterious cavern men need to explore, after donning precautionary gear, lest the rituals of my life threaten to supercede their own. I do not exist under a “veil” to be raised, function daily in some secret hide away. My existence is not a mystery. I am neither trying nor desiring to be the occupier of any space but that, which has been gifted to me.
I do not know your desires completely brother, but I know your love for the very people of whom you are “bone of the bone and flesh of the flesh.” For that reason I can’t help but wonder why you seek to expose me/us to forces choosing to render we, [if only to themselves] invisible. Why has denial taken command of your soul? You, my brother, know that we have always been, and will continue to be visible in a universe equipped to embrace us all. You know our lives to be real. Yet you place our spirits and songs on tables to be evaluated by those who have their own songs to sing. Consumption for a system, that drinks our blood to ensure its survival. You seem to feed us up willingly, by searching for home foreign territory. This cannot be your intent. We have a home.
I will admit that you are correct to point out the reality of a “double consciousness, a two-ness of american and negro,” but I can’t help but wonder why this stage was set, and why we feel compelled to enter it. Are we obliged to seek “freedom in [this] promise land” from those with whom we co-exist? This space cannot be rightfully possessed by any of us for we are, all of us, mere tenants of an order greater than even we. We each, make a choice to enter into contacted ownership of a humanity that must negate and invalidate to survive. I cannot sign up today. Rather I choose to mark, reject and discard this phenomenon, like an old sweater that has served no purpose at all, for we come from fertile ground and we are not cold.
I wonder Mr. DuBois, what this text would look like if you too had discarded this trend, if you had written as who you are, about you. Could you have written without thought to audience, spoken with your facts about what is, maybe written the Blues? How would you tell your story as the “tired climber searching for Canaan?” Would you still be “handicapped and racing with the world” if you were not measuring “men” against the “souls of Black folks?” In this place this measurement I am most intrigued by this men to non-men balance. Who I wonder, names the things that make up the basis of this comparison? Who possesses the right to decide against melanin? When exactly did we blindly accept the standard and, in turn, surrender our humanity?
As I near the conclusion of this dialog I must note that my assessment here is as much about me as you. I find myself wading in a pool of multiculturalism that seeks to uphold an us /them mentality. What I know is that we are all culture for we have each of us adapted to this existence in ways that make sense for us. Each manifestation looks different, sometimes mystical, but it is, in fact, an adaptation nothing more nothing less. Our lives, our cultures are not to be explained, or conceptualized in any other context than the ones we exist in. I search daily for that comfortable place beyond a covetous path, that honors each of our journeys. I have yet to find it, maybe together we will.