I may have mentioned that I watch food and home reality shows. One of my favorite food reality shows is “Master Chef” where home cooks compete against one another for the grand prize.
Now I am a great home cook but I do not cook like those contestants. They are like gourmet home cooks. I don’t know any home cooks who cook like they do. I often wonder if they are given recipes on the show for those fancy schmancy five star restaurant dishes they create.
But, this is not the point of this post. A few months back, a woman won “Master Chef.” At the end of the show she proclaimed herself “The first Latina Master Chef.” This is the point of this post.
In my limited observations, it appears to me that almost every culture openly and unapologetically celebrates its culture except, for the most part, African Americans. It is almost as though we feel we have to hold back a little on the celebration lest we offend someone, that we too often feel as though we must apologize for our presence or our right to “sit in the living room.”
We do not always declare our pride in our history, our traditions and we are, too often, the first to apologize for being too visible. It is as though we learned the rules of assimilation all too well.
The woman who won “Master Chef” that night stuck to the recipes of her culture just elevating them from rustic to gourmet. She never moved away from, in her words, “who she was.” In fact, every other contestant whose ethnicity would be considered minority represented and celebrated, for the most part, their culture in their cooking. The African American “chefs” sometimes offered “me on a plate,” but not very often and often with calamitous results.
The time has come for me to just celebrate me, to celebrate the pain and the traditions of my history, individual and collective. It us time to celebrate the “Overcomers” inherent in my history, in my culture, in my nature.
I will celebrate the pain for it has taught me how resilient African Americans truly are. Trace the timeline of our history and recognize that no matter what we endured (and we gave and endured a lot), we have survived. It may be true that much our pain today is because we have not come to grips with the pain of our past, but we must learn to celebrate the tenacity inherent in that pain. I will celebrate!
I will celebrate the traditions passed down to me from ancestors who created their own from scraps, who learned to lead while shackled in servitude, who clothed themselves in their Sunday Best after celebrating Black on a Saturday night. I will celebrate!
I will not apologize for the natural locks or the darker melanin.
I will code switch without explanation.
I will not back away from the conversations that assume I have no voice or opinion about my place.
I will be visible in unexpected places.
I will sing my song of difference and dance my dance of uniqueness in homogenous venues.
I will celebrate ME with no apology!