Dear Black America

A gorgeous, stirring, evocative paean to Black America by Pulitzer winner Tracy K. Smith.

We are many things, aren’t we? We are hair. God yes, we are hair. And song. And memory. We are a language so deep it has no need for words. And we are words that feint, dart and wheel like birds. Like James Brown, we feel good. Like Fannie Lou Hamer, we are sick and tired. We are fearsome. We are fire. Like God, we are that we are.

I’ve always felt great freedom in the countless territories making up the realm of Blackness. So many routes to wholeness. So many versions of joy. In Blackness I am local. In Blackness I am also distant kin. Indigenous and immigrant at once. Host and welcome guest.

But in the country of America—the physical and psychic territory in which the physical and psychic domain of Black America is situated—we are made to huddle together. By force. By the feelings of rage, threat, exhaustion, disappointment and longsuffering that extend toward us from this nation that loathes, fears, regrets and cannot yet fully bear to accept the fact of us.

And I hear my uncles saying, “Tell me something I don’t know,” with laughter in their throats. And it is that laughter—our laughter—that I cleave to.

Smith, Tracy K. (2020, July 2).Dear Black America: A Letter From Tracy K. Smith. Lithub.

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