After watching your interview recently on the Today Show; I wanted to reach out to you in sisterly love; not sisterly love because you identify as “black”, but sisterly love; woman to woman; as an African woman. There were many things that you stated which caused me to have follow up questions for you; such as your “self –identification came through the black experience”. Since you stated there was a “complexity of identity”, I had to stop to define identity. In this context, we can imply that identity is being used to describe the characteristics of your individuality. The quality of your individuality ultimately has the power to set you apart from others because of your uniqueness; instead you conformed to black culture. For a people who were stolen away from their own land and sold to a foreign land, for the women who were raped on the plantation; later birthing children and having them ripped from their arms; these black experiences causes complexity of identity.
We admire that you love our culture and have chosen to live a life to advocate for marginalized communities. As you have done your research, you know that the African Diaspora history has always been rooted in survival, in a race for equity, in a land that was built by the labor of the slaves. So while you choose to identify as black; would you also take being whipped until you stood in a puddle of blood; would you have gave your seat up for sister Rosa on the bus; as a mother how do you feel knowing that your son’s could be the next victim of police brutality?
You cannot change your ethnicity. These experiences of the past and the present made us strong. If you want to identify with us, you first must learn to love and identify yourself.
By: Sharnay Hearn