Being Black and Male and….in Newark!

Posted: August 20, 2010 by IVNamez in General

What follows is not really a song. Well, at least in the sense that it is not meant to be sung to music but read alound as a meditation, of sorts,  to sound(s). Some words, phrases, statements in this note are purposefully repeated. So, read through the choruses and repeat where it directs you to do so. This piece is about MY experience and fails to speak to the experience of other Black men living in Newark…

Chorus: One would think that existing, living, surviving, thriving as a Black man in Newark would be, of all games, the easiest to master, for a Black man. Considering that Newark is a space where Blackness is daily illumined through the embodiment of sisters and brothers on our streets, captured in the musics that flow through iPod earphones and blazed through loud speakers, a space where Blackness is so quotidian that the city itself is read and raciated as exceptionally black by everybody else (and, that’s alright too), being a Black male-identified body in Newark bears many lessons.

Verse 1: Being a Black/man requires reflexivity, charm, negotiation, boldness, tissues, smiles, tenacity, swag, muscles, a job, a way in, and a way out. It means that our presence is cause for a multi-pronged project of surveillance: I watch the other…the other watches me…we watch one another…and at the same time we are being watched by the State, by the Media, by the Church through a lens colored by race, shaped by heteronormativity and complicated by class…we, too, do the watching through the glasses of our oppressors.

Chorus: One would think that existing, living, surviving, thriving as a Black man in Newark would be, of all games, the easiest to master, for a Black man. Considering that Newark is a space where Blackness is daily illumined through the embodiment of sisters and brothers on our streets, captured in the musics that flow through iPod earphones and blazed through loud speakers, a space where Blackness is so quotidian that the city itself is read and raciated as exceptionally black by everybody else (and, that’s alright too), being a Black male-identified body in Newark bears many lessons.

Verse 2: Recently, while being lectured to in Newark, the White man doing the “teaching” asks, “Why are you looking at me like you are gonna kill me!?” Some time ago, while speaking at a flag raising ceremony commencing the annual LGBTQ Pride Week in Newark a straight? Black man hollers, “Faggot!” It’s been repeated on more than one occasion, by other queer Black men, that I am “bourgeois”, that I am a “guppy” (aka a gay yuppy), and that I am out of touch with the needs and lives of working class Black folk and they were right, I was losing touch.

Chorus: One would think that existing, living, surviving, thriving as a Black man in Newark would be, of all games, the easiest to master, for a Black man. Considering that Newark is a space where Blackness is daily illumined through the embodiment of sisters and brothers on our streets, captured in the musics that flow through iPod earphones and blazed through loud speakers, a space where Blackness is so quotidian that the city itself is read and raciated as exceptionally black by everybody else (and, that’s alright too), being a Black male-identified body in Newark bears many lessons.

Bridge: I was invited by a White colleague to eat at a “cultured” restaurant (Je’s Soul Food Restaurant to be exact) as a means to welcome me to campus…I am scared to look for an apartment in the East Ward because I was told by Black friends that my application would be rejected by the Portuguese and Brazilian landlords because of my color…I must decide to be silent or break the monotony when other Black, White, Latino, Asian men are talking about their girlfriends, wives or sex partners…I wear a suit and am thought to be “up there” by those I often assumed were “down there”…I write Amiri’s name on my wall and am told by a White female “You know, I love visiting your FaceBook page but I must admit I have some issues with some of the folk that you associate with”….I wear Timberland boots and feel “bout it” and wonder: “what the hell am I performing/proving”…I cry, alone.

Chorus: One would think that existing, living, surviving, thriving as a Black man in Newark would be, of all games, the easiest to master, for a Black man. Considering that Newark is a space where Blackness is daily illumined through the embodiment of sisters and brothers on our streets, captured in the musics that flow through iPod earphones and blazed through loud speakers, a space where Blackness is so quotidian that the city itself is read and raciated as exceptionally black by everybody else (and, that’s alright too), being a Black male-identified body in Newark bears many lessons.

Vamp: But, I wouldn’t want it any other way. (Repeat ten times)

Fade to Black: that space that is full of silence and noise, beauty and perplexity, desire and pain, love and more love.

-darnell

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Comments
  1. 1coin says:

    Kyle, thank you for reading! Always encouraging….darnell

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