I am more than a liturgical dancer; I am liturgical. My history is liturgy.
I am not going to tell you that you are going to hell. I am not going to demand that you believe what I believe.
My goal is to be a living testimony that you might see just how good God has been to me.
The son of the Black Madonna said, “the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.” (John 14:12) If Christ says that I can do greater things than he, who am I to argue?
I’ll never be perfect. Like a curve approaching the asymptote of Christ, I will strive all the more earnestly to reach the goal.
I am a Black existentialist, a Christian existentialist, a Black nihilist, an absurdist. I probably don’t have to define absurdism for you to agree: the world we live in is absurd.
Between police officers killing innocent Black men and the same officers getting away with murder, there seems a conflict between the quest to find and prove the value of Black life and the inability to find it, the inability for it to be accepted by others. That’s absurdism. The only meaning in our lives is the meaning we put there. That’s existentialism.
What about God? Well even God gave us a choice. This freedom, leading to dread-angst and despair, is completely within our control. Didn’t He say I am the city and ye are the city? Didn’t he say that you could do greater things than Christ? Paul tried to tell us that we could do all things through Christ.
All. No one ever said that we could only do the things that we could afford, or the things allowed by our genetics; no one ever said we were limited by our IQ. We can do all things.
I am an existentialist, a Christian existentialist, because even though I am an other in American society, I believe in my own authenticity. I determine my life, my future, my experience. I know that even in Black nihilism, Black existentialism when there is no intrinsic purpose or value that doesn’t mean that there is no purpose or value at all.
I create myself, through the power of Christ; condemned to be free.
I am oppressed. My great-great-grandparents were enslaved and my great-grandparents not much better; my grandmother was a domestic and my own father was the same age as Emmett Till when he was lynched, living not too far away. In Mississippi-goddamn, that tree could have been for my father.
And I wouldn’t be here.
It is no accident that many of my favorite books have the word oppressed in the title: Pedagogy of the Oppressed; God of the Oppressed.
Most Christians overlook the scripture, “Envy not the oppressor and choose none of his ways.” Perhaps, because it does not apply to them. But no one knows how hard it is not to envy your slave master, your tyrant or your rapist, your country -- no one knows but the downtrodden, the oppressed.
I am Lady Fortitude. Or at least, I am Lady Fortitude waiting to awake into her own power. I am Lucy -- Dinkinish; I am Nefertiti -- Neferneferuaten; I am Mary -- Madonna. I am mother nature.
There is nothing that I cannot survive. I can survive drought and plagues, wars and occupation, slavery and colonialism and imperialism; I can survive exploitative capitalism, racist democracy. I can survive rape and theft and violence and rape and illiteracy and miseducation and rape and rape and rape. I can. I have. I will.
Yet, even though I can survive oppression and repression and depression, I remember I am worth the best. I am worth of the best this world can offer, perhaps better.
I am a genius.
I am not a genius because I am smarter than you or better educated, because I am more talented than you or better trained; I am a genius because I have decided to claim my essence. I am a genius because I have created a life of genius. I am a genius because I’ve finally decided to stop settling for anything else.
My being a genius does not prevent you, too, from being a genius. There is no limit on the number of geniuses this Earth can hold.
I am a genius because I figured out how to succeed after failure; I discovered the knack in not giving up, not giving in. I am a genius because I figured out how to be fought against without becoming a fighter; I figured out how to be a fighter without resorting to violence. I am a genius because I discovered when, rarely, violence is necessary.
I am a genius because I have survived what has killed others. I have survived suicidal tendencies, and physical abuse and anal rape. I am a genius because I have survived poverty and homelessness. I am a genius because I know that my my degree and my diploma, my publications and my accomplishments, my personality and my beauty do not make me any better than you. I am a genius because I see your genius. I see your intelligence; I see your talent; I see your depth; I see your spirit.
I am a genius because I see God every time I see you.
Walter Mosley once wrote: “The decision to use the term ‘genius’ was not to isolate our thinkers… We understand genius to be that quality that crystallizes the hopes and talents and character of a people. This kind of genius is something we all share. It is a presence where absence one reigned. It is the possibility for a people to look into their hearts and to see a life worth living.”