“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.”--Toni Morrison, "Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination" (1992)
My partner captured the picture above, unbeknown to me at the time. I had just been jumping over rocks with my girls, Bobigny and Livvie. We stopped to rest and lay there feeling the sun on my skin and the softness of these little mutts that I love so much. I felt peaceful, joyful. Those things renew me and help me deal with a very stressful life and world full of non-stop violence.
I will not wax on much about the quote above, or the distressing environment in which we are forced to function as full human beings. Because I have been here before. And so have many of you. And, unfortunately, we will be here again. I want Aunty Toni's quote to remind you that you are, indeed a full human being. There will always be someone trying to deny your right to that. There will always be someone trying to distract you from the fullness of your potential because they have not realised their own--be it individual attempts at domination or racialised and gendered ones.
When I called this brand Bourn Beautiful Naturals, it was, in part, to emphasise that as Black people, we come into this world full of natural beauty, and perfectly imperfect. But our socialisation is such that we spend our entire lives recovering, fighting to return to that inheritance. Our brand is about helping you recover that memory and reminding yourself that you are entitled to joy. Much of racism is about dehumanisation in any way possible. We are not beings who only exist to resist. We exist to live. Part of living means practising joy.
Our people have higher incidences of high blood pressure, mental injury, diabetes, in part because of societal stresses brought on by racism. Do not take joy as a luxury, especially during times of political protest. Think of it as preventative medicine to keep you healthy--physically and mentally. Much like exercise, joy is something you practice by making time and space. Please take up space with your joy and your insistence on celebrating your existence. We deserve to be here.