The astonishing degree of human suffering in the black world is such that it is almost an identity itself – black is to suffering, as day is to sun. Often you can recognize black identity by the presence of suffering as you recognize day by the presence of the sun.
The sufferer’s identity is a trap. It leads to the condition where the absence of suffering is seen as a loss of identity. There is ample evidence of the sufferer’s identity in the
The sordid and ongoing relationship between Africa and her Diaspora and
An alternative and more positive identity could have transformative power. It could shift the central pillar of black identity from resistance to affirmation. African Diasporic studies invariably use the brutality of slavery and its attendant suffering as the common link between black people around the world. The beautiful cultural manifestations of song, food, spirit and family are usually recognizable among black people regardless of where they are. That is typically because of the common strategies that emerged to resist European oppression of one form or another. Despite the profound beauty of many aspects of that common identity, it is still rooted in resistance and tends to glorify not only suffering but, hardknocks. Is it possible to transform an identity of resistance to an identity of affirmation? Is it possible to do so when the conditions facing black people everywhere are so dire? Is it possible to move from an identity rooted in resistance despite there still being an endless array of forces to resist? Is it possible for an alternative identity to be pinned to our humanity as opposed to our suffering?
An identity based on affirmation does not neglect that suffering is part of our legacy. Forgetting our pain would be a mistake. Rather, it acknowledges that suffering is merely a component of a more broadly defined and evolving identity. With an affirmative identity there are no bonus points for being from our global “hoods” –