My Black is Beautiful

Black History

Derek Walcott, Nobel Prize poet, receives a sketch made in his honor in San José, Costa Rica.

Nobel Prize winner and poet Derek Walcott, now aged by life, traveled from his wheelchair and sat in front of a Costa Rican audience to share his gift of insight.  He was the featured guest of a literary festival that would lead up to the Dia de las personas Negra or Day of Black Persons.

After giving an interview where he answered questions about the effects of colonization on afro-descendents especially in the Caribbean, Walcott began to read in a profound tone not disturbed by his noticeable hand shakings his own poems of life reflections that have earned him fame.  

In between one piece, the poet recounted a story.  He was on a movie set and a cameraman called him over, telling him to look throw the eye piece.  What he saw was one of the most beautiful black women he had ever laid eyes on, he said.

“There are black women that can’t believe they are beautiful because they are black.  That’s a disease of colonization,” he said.

Later he went to a cafe and saw another woman.  He tried to capture this beauty in his poetry, he added before reading an excerpt from his epic poem that earned him the Nobel Prize in 1992, Omeros.

There is something too remote about her stillness.  Women study her beauty, but turn their faces away if their eyes should meet,  like an ebony carving. But if she should swerve that silhouette hammered out of the sea’s metal like a profile on a shield, its sinuous neck longing like a palm’s, you might recall than battle for which they named an island or the heavy wreck of the Ville de Paris in her foam-frilled bodice, or just think, “What a fine local woman!”…

Walcott used the black woman as a metaphor in many of his poems, to describe things he behold as beautiful or things that he loved.  This is further seen in his work, Light of the World, a poem from The Arkansas Testament in which he establishes himself as a figure whose gift to his country is a reflection of insight on the thoughts and culture that is the Black identity.  He describes his home of Saint Lucia through a symbol of a beautiful ebony woman in which he fell in love.

it was like a statue, like a black Delacroix’s
Liberty Leading the People , the gently bulging
whites of her eyes, the carved ebony mouth,
the heft of the torso solid, and a woman’s,
but gradually even that was going in the dusk,
except the line of her profile, and the highlit cheek,
and I thought, O Beauty, you are the light of the world!
Later I reflected on Walcott’s message for current afro-descendents, but I remembered most this point for the women.  Our ebony skin and our full features are not curses, but gems that should be embraced.  We should look down on our backgrounds as scars but should wear  it as badges of perseverance, overcoming and success. We are the ones that will continue to bare the fruit that is our races future generations, and as they age they will continue to look at us for care, guidance and wisdom proving that we are the light of our world.
My black is beautiful, exotic, perfect and untarnished.  It is a continuation of the blood, sweat and tears of those before me who struggled so that I can have a decent future.  It is divine and surreal, something that only I can comprehend.  Something that I can never lose.  And I hope never to forget it.
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