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Humanizing Blackness


A Black body is not the same thing as a Black life. The body is a caucus; a shell that encapsulates the soul. It is the outward image one sees and the vibrant expression of culture; the proud display of tightly wound natural curls of hair; the learned self-love for the distinct shade of melanin-pigmented skin ranging from light sandy undertones to shimmering, rich velvety chocolate; the swift movements of the hips and feet, an almost instinctual physical reaction, at the sound of rhythmic beats.

When a Black body is killed, the Black life does not automatically die. When carefully scooped up and nurtured, it can persevere. However, parading around images of the dead like a trophy is not equivalent to honoring the life. The life is preserved when it is cradled by those, who loved both the body and the soul therein. This occurs when the values and beliefs of the soul are infused into the Black lives of all the community members, who chant for and cherish the being.

While the physical manifestation of the Black body may die, the Black life, the outward expression of Black souls, is liberated after death and scattered among loved ones where it can live forever. The life persists for generations through intimate stories passed down by word of mouth, before finally being transcribed into an eternal form. This transference of information is implemented to ensure that Blackness is not only remembered by the body, but also, by the life.

Society tends to focus on the exploitation of Black bodies; however, we must shift this focus to Black lives. For although Black bodies are inherently valuable, Black lives are often neglected and dismissed, but I implore you that they must be cherished, for it is these lives that define the characteristics of individuals and remind us of the who behind the name.

Image credit: Love Black Mothers by cool revolution licensed under CC BY -NC-ND 2.0 license.

Vidya Lala Vidya Lala (1 Posts)

Medical Student Contributor

F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine - Uniformed Services University

Hi! I am a fourth year medical student at the Uniformed Services University, pursuing a career in Family Medicine. I was originally born in Trichardt, South Africa, and lived in Johannesburg prior to moving to the United States in 2001! My mom's side of the family is still located in Zimbabwe and my dad's in South Africa. I first discovered my passion for writing in high school and continue to work on various art forms as a means of understanding and processing the world around me. Thank you for taking the time to get to know me and for interacting with my writing!