The Joy They (And By They, I Mean White People) Can’t Steal
On November 4, 2008, we witnessed a collective moment of hope and inspiration in the Black community with the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. As a moment of pride and patriotism, I don’t think there has ever been a time in the African American experience where we’ve felt as though we’d transcended our outsider status and “otherness” and reached a point of inclusion like on that day.
Our president was Black. Our Lambos were blue. And over the next eight years we learned to make-do.
Then came November 2016 and the coming of the Trump Era, a time that’s been seemingly defined by a desire to undo all that Barack Obama did no matter how big or small.
But I have another hypothesis. I feel that there’s something else in the air. Something more sinister in the actions of some who support the new administration. For them, it’s not enough to seemingly erase the legacy of the first Black President. No, not at all. For them there’s a cruel desire to punish African Americans for ever having had a Barack or a Michelle or a Black First Family at all. It’s as if they want to rob us of that joy.
But here’s what they don’t know, try as they might and try as they will to try take us back or to a place of despair, we’re gonna hold on to our joy because it’s what held us together before Barack, and it’s what’s gonna keep us going through time immemorial.
That said, here’s a few of the moments of joy they can’t take from us…
Seeing Hennessy on sale
Look, I don’t drink Hennessy, but I know a lot of Black folks that do. Black folks love Hennessy. We sing about it. We rap about it. We get it tattooed on our bodies. Some of us have even named children and pitbulls after it. It’s a staple for any Black social gathering. So, when I walk into the liquor store on a Friday night to pick up a bottle of Malbec and I see that Henny’s stocked up for $25.00, I know that someone Black is fitna have a good ass time that weekend.
It makes me happy to know so many Black people are gonna be happy, even if I’m not gonna be there with them. Henny on the table is a symbol of Black joy.
HBCU Marching Bands playing “Talkin’ Out The Side of Your Neck”
There’s literally a comparison study on YouTube for this phenomena if you have 20 minutes to kill…
When I die (hopefully a long ass time from now of a non-law enforcement related cause), I want a marching band in the street ready to strike up this tune as soon as they wheel my carcass out of the church. I’m talking full band with Mahogany In Motion (Spelhouse) or Ebony Fire (Hampton) and e’rythang.
Running a Boston
Because Teddy an’nem was talkin’ mad shit before the spades game started. Now you twelve books deep with the Big Joker in your hand and they ain’t said a mumbling word.
Go ahead, stick the card on your forehead and do a little dance.
Finding out the new Black person at work is down
So they just hired Marcus in Accounting and you’ve been seeing this cat in the breakroom and in a couple of meetings. But you haven’t had a chance to rap with him yet to see what he’s on or if, God forbid, he’s like corny ass Phil over in IT who looked at you crazy when you asked him if he heard that new Rick Ross.
Then, one day, you walk past his cube and you hear something faint. Something subtle. Something you think you’ve heard before, but you’re not quite sure if it is what you think it is. But then it hits you…
“Percocet. Molly. Percocet.”
Now you know and now Marcus gets the nod in the hall.
The opening keys to “Before I Let Go”
Out of the list of agreed upon African American traditions, the playing of Maze ft. Frankie Beverly’s “Before I Let Go” to officially mark the lit period of a social gathering is sacred. Truly, nothing says, “here’s the bride and groom,” or “happy birthday, Momma,” or “the ribs are ready” like hearing Frankie’s smooth crooning of ‘Whoa-oooo-wah-hooooo” and that driving bassline.
Ignoring Instructions at Graduations
Fuck propriety. It’s Lil Laquinnicus’s big day to walk across that stage and get his diploma and we’ll be damned and a half if some mid-level administrator from the alternative high school is gonna stop us from cheering him individually.
No, we’re not gonna wait until all the graduates’ names are announced before we go ham. Yes, we know it’s disruptive to the event and mildly disrespectful to the other families but who gives a damn? For some of us, a high school diploma is a terminal degree and, even now, the furthest anyone in the family might have made it. You goddamn right it’s time for some air horns and a stanky leg.
Watching Black people win on Chopped
Or The Price Is Right, or American Ninja Warrior, or the Scripps National Spelling Bee. If Black people are competing that’s who we want to win.
A few weeks ago, I literally yelled, “C’mon, muthafucka!” at my TV in front of my children over an episode of Chopped Junior because the young Black kid overcooked the steak.
Seeing old Black people in Obama ‘nalia
Like I said before, there are those out there that want to make it seem as if the Obama Era never happened. And to those people I present old Black folks in Obama t-shirts, hats, hoodies, and jackets as a counterpoint.
Try as they might, my momma and her friends aren’t ever gonna let go of their Black president. He’s officially on the wall next to the giant knife and fork hung ever so gracefully next to Jesus and beside the giant wicker chair. Let the old Black folk tell it we’re all somehow related to Michelle an’nem and Sasha and Malia got about a millionty-six cousins out here in this world.
But to see the people and to know that there was a time, they can’t ever take that away.