“It is the mind that makes the body.”–Sojourner Truth
“We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased, we are glad. If they are not, it doesn’t matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too.”–Langston Hughes
As another long week of Winter Quarter and the beginning of Black History Month, today is the birthday of these two incredible figures in history. So I’m starting with them.
In the past, many have told us who to be or what to think or how to act because we were not given the freedom of choice. I look at the life I hold, the privileges laying in my hands, and I thank people like these two—both their quotes can tell you why.
If the mind is what makes the body, I am thankful for the opportunity and freedom I have to think the way I do. Growing up, I was told to dream up whatever dream I wanted; then become it. Fifty years ago, I wonder how many black people believed in this the way I am now allowed to.
My mind is creative, and annoying, and full, and too loud, and beautiful sometimes; it’s all of the above. Therefore, my body is the same. Yet, there are no boundaries on what my mind can do, nor are there limits on what I chose to do with my body (to an extent). Because of people like Sojourner Truth, I come to you every week with this blog and I follow my passions.
For me, this is a privilege.
Like Langston Hughes—if I ever were to make any comparison between him and myself—I am an artist. I have learned to express myself through my art, in writing, music, drawing, and so much more. Though I still have a long way to go in expressing everything I want to, in being vulnerable and open about who I am or where I’ve been, it takes time and a whole lot of practice.
But I don’t need to fear and I do not need to feel shame. Not in the way people like me have in the past.
For this, I am lucky.
My art is not to please others, simply to put pieces of myself into the world around me. My art is what balances me out. If I write, I write for myself and share such work with you because I think you deserve to hear it if you so choose. Though I do hope you are pleased at least occasionally, in the long run it shouldn’t have to matter.
Because it will be beautiful and ugly and everything in between whether you see it or not.
I hope you see it.
Take a look at the quotes I started with, the two people I chose to honor today. Those quotes could mean anything to anyone, they could represent something completely different.
And that’s okay. Because for these things, for interpretations and art, there is no one truth. For our bodies and our minds, there is no singular correct way to exist.
We just do. And if you’ve made it this far, know that I appreciate you for existing here with me this week.
Have a wonderful weekend. And I will see you Friday.