Negritude is a reworking of a pejorative term used by the French. Distilled to its core and unable to produce shame. it means blackness. a move, steady and wide. unmistakably, the change that was promised.
Resistance was a communion shared between black people across the water and I see that happening again.
New York! I say New York, let black blood flow into your blood.
Let it wash the rust from your steel joints, like an oil of life
Let it give your bridges the curve of hips and supple vines.
Now the ancient age returns, unity is restored,
The reconciliation of the Lion and Bull and Tree
Idea links to action, the ear to the heart, sign to meaning.
See your rivers stirring with musk alligators
And sea cows with mirage eyes. No need to invent the Sirens.
Just open your eyes to the April rainbow
And your eyes, especially your ears, to God
Who in one burst of saxophone laughter
Created heaven and earth in six days,
And on the seventh slept a deep Negro sleep.
Léopold Sédar Senghor, “To New York” from The Collected Poems, translated by Melvin Dixon. Read the full poem.
Senghor served as the first president of Senegal. When your first president is a poet and cultural theorist, it says a lot about the people. I've never been to Senegal but I know it is a place I should call home in this lifetime. The temper of negritude still provides the tempo.
Sanity is in the communion. I feel increasingly more relieved as I do my own research into African history and culture particularly when it comes to resistance. Radical resistance movements have always been something I learned about as outside of the continent and then in select African contexts. the ideology and the action have been a fixture of my study because their divorce is a tool of suppression, a cleaver denial of intellectualism.
We can never be sure how much we have to lose. We don't fully understand the fragments that are in front of us, but I am certain that we can fly forward while looking back. I am certain that somehow our ancestors would know that we would need too.