Wednesday, November 16, 2016

How A Seat at the Table is helping me through the election let down

The election is now a week past us. The results are in, and many of us are still reeling from the results. With so much uncertainty, emotions running high, and vulnerability on both sides, it's easy to get lost in the swirling confusion of emotion that most people feel right now. This week, a lot of us got slapped in the face by an ugly truth as old as this nation itself. Racism, bigotry, and misogyny are still very much alive in the 21st century.

They always have been. They were written into the very fabric of the tapestry of this nation. Many of us were living under the haze of Hope and Yes We Can, that we were blinded to it. The Obama elections showed us what we as a nation could be. The Trump election shows us what we as a nation are. And its ugly and divisive, and it hurts.

As an African American woman, with the embedded history of racism, inequality, and injustice within my very DNA, now living under the impending very openly bigoted and racist regime ahead, I am brimming with feels, some that I even struggle to put into words. To be Black in America is to live with anger, righteous indignation that words alone can't express. But you can hear it. It's in almost every lyric we write and almost every song we sing, pain and triumph and anger and peace.

Solange's A Seat at the Table couldn't have come along at a better time. For me personally, this album has become my solace, one of the places I escape to to find my voice, my feelings, my words about what has happened to us as a people.

Her chants in Weary "I'm weary of the ways of the world. Be weary of the ways of the world. I'm weary of the ways of the world." captured the exhaustion I felt as an individual and as a member of my ethnicity. We are weary of this fight, a fight we have been fighting for almost half of a millennia. That doesn't mean we stop fighting, but there is a drain and strain that comes with being a Brown person in the US.

That drain is further expressed accompanied with anger in Mad "I ran into this girl, I said, "I'm tired of explaining". Man, this shit is draining. But I'm not really allowed to be mad." We as a people are the only ethnicity not freely allowed to express the full vent of our collective trauma. Between the known and unknown injustices committed upon our ethnicities, our unknown history, our disconnected past and the future we could face under a racist president, we have more than the right to be mad, but to this day, the African American is the only ethnicity still not given reparations, and more importantly, are constantly told to "get over it".

The whole of Cranes in the Sky expresses the many methods by which we try to cope with this pain, this anger that is only compounded daily with further disrespect, ignorance, and injustices.

In FUBU, the pronouncements of "All my niggas in the whole wide world, made this song to make it all y'all's turn for us. This shit is from us. Get so much from us. Then forget us. Don't feel bad if you can't sing along. Just be glad you got the whole wide world. This us. This shit is from us. Some shit you can't touch." talks on the realities of building a Nation that you still haven't benefitted from.

My personal favorite is Don't Touch My Hair, a testament to the constant commentary of the cultural appropriation and mis understanding of the ethnicity, accompanied by hauntingly beautiful visuals.

All of the songs aren't so emotionally charged. Borderline talks about the importance of self care, one I fully have been engaging in since the trauma of last week.

Solange's A Seat at the Table has given me a voice where words had escaped me, where emotions overwhelmed me, where clarity had failed me. Her lyrics, her songs, her collection of words and melodies really guided me out of an ugly place that the election had violently thrusted me into. Now awake, aware, yes angry, but alert and activated, I can attribute a great portion of my self care, personal therapy, and empowerment to this unique but powerful album.