Melanin & feeds
I have no words for our age; no solace for the outrage — very few people do. Only black voices can make sense of the zeitgeist; they remind us that the burden of the American Original Sin persists, despite 1968, MLK, Black History Month, and many other gestures of appeasement that these days ring hollow and empty…
It’s because of this lack of words that this story will account for some of the black voices that’ve popped into my social media feeds these days. The first black artist culled from my social media and put into this story will be 2Pac. These days his voice hits all the right notes —
To tell the myth of 2Pac without mentioning his mother, would be a storytelling crime as high as any —
[Afeni] Shakur chose to represent herself in court, pregnant while on trial and facing a 300-year prison sentence and had no law degree. Shakur interviewed witnesses and argued in court. She and the others in the “Panther 21” were acquitted in May 1971 after an eight-month trial. Altogether, Afeni Shakur spent two years in jail before being acquitted. Her son, Lesane Parish Crooks, was born on June 16, 1971. The following year, in 1972, Lesane Parish was renamed Tupac Amaru Shakur, which means “shining serpent” in Inca
A decade before the shining serpent sprang forth from Afeni’s struggles, Stokely Carmichael articulated the conditions from which 2Pac emerged, the circumstances that people of color face daily; he crystalised the term we know as institutional racism. We cannot begin to make sense for this concept without navigating the perilous and bloody legacy of colonialism —
Because of poetry, translation, & social media, Ángelamaría Dávila — afropuertorrican poet — sang in English. Her voice, which has been a beacon of empowerment for black Puerto Rican women for decades, was translated by Sabrina Ramos Rubén:
I saw how the silence could not
bind your translucent tongue.
You silenced it by the sheer force of a wave
populating it with living cells of words
These artists are by no means the only ones i’ve come across. This story will only be the first one of several. I’ll update my content with more voices — the wellspring of Black culture is rich, bountiful, and unavoidable. For the time being, I can rely on my feeds — my social media avatars, as much as we love to hate them—as important sources of empowerment and growth.
I hope this story — and the ones that’ll emerge from my future social media engagement — encourages people of color, and melanin challenged brothers and sisters, to listen to ignored sages and cassandras that have always been there.