I’ve been trying to get this post up on the blog for a month now, I just haven’t had the words to truly express my emotions. I’m wanting to soothe my heart a little, work out how I landed myself here. How did I land here? What went wrong? I’m grieving the loss of one I once loved. How do people lose a parent, a best friend, a sibling? How does death work to rob us?
How should I present myself to the world? Am I a tom-boy? Am I artsy-fartsy enough to pull off blue braids? Can I rock a waist-length weave? Should I leave the house au-naturale with no make-up? Am I more like so and so who loves to wear lots of accessories and dress to impress or is my style more simple and understated?
I’ve been savoring this blog post in my heart for a while now. I’ve been letting it. Just sit. Just brew. Deep inside me. This post is like. This treasured memoir of days gone by that you deeply hold onto. Like that first time that you rode a bike. Or that first time that you had your heart broken. Memoirs of days, filled. With laughter. With pain. With loss. With acceptance.
Allow me to write to you. But first, take off your eye-scales. Wipe clean your glasses. Take a hiatus from your hair woes. Switch off your TV. And Hush. Listen to the silence if you will. Focus on your breath, your inhale. Then your exhale. Let it out, all out. I know you're tired. So am I. So here, my friend, is an invitation to rest.
I was typing out an entirely different post altogether before I changed my mind and decided to write on this one instead. I thought it was about time that I shared my thoughts on a question that many of naturalistas ask themselves over and over again: Is my hair beautiful enough to be worn in its natural state?
From where is she to find her strength? She who is black, female, African, educated, enlightened, talented, critical and awakened. Where is she to find the courage to stand against and above systems of oppression both here in America and back home in Africa? Where is she to find space to breathe and to be human? When will she be allowed to live? Just to live.
It's a snowy day in mid-January. Friend and I decide to visit the Clark Museum. Lots of folks that visit this rural (the more polite term is pastoral) part of America come to the Clark to see antiquated pieces of American and European prints, drawings, sculptures and paintings. Although the museum is a five minute walk from my residence, in all the years I have been here, it has never been of interest to me. I dare say. Maybe because I've had enough of its like already.
Museums are increasingly becoming interesting spaces to me. I'm intrigued, by how spaces shape our lives - how they address us, spur us, constrict us and elevate us. Museums and Art Galleries draw me in, because as curated spaces, they are carefully designed to tell visual narratives.
I first knew that I was black when I moved to America. Before then, I was simply Kenyan or female or ALAian. I identified as being from a region or as being the-daughter-of or a-student-at, rather than as being of a certain race. I soon realized that the latter identity marker would come to colour, quite literally, my experience away from my home soil.
Walking in W. C. M. A is a creative project in Self-Portraiture, that explores African black female subjectivity. That is, the contours of embodying 'African-ness', blackness and femaleness in contested or inorganic spaces.
Self-Portraiture is a soul-versation about being an African woman, who born and bred on the continent, has temporarily or permanently moved abroad to pursue her studies at an elite institution. She is a cultured, exposed, sophisticated, enlightened and empowered Afropolitan yet she must prove her self-worth in this differently-demanding environment.