The Unsustainable Production of Black Excellence

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It’s been a healing first semester at Presidio Graduate school where I’m studying sustainability in business and policy. And, as I reflect back on my first semester and I think of that word ‘sustainable’ I start to wonder about all the unsustainable things I’ve had to recover from in this world. And since this post feels like a personal and professional experimental reflection I want to talk about black excellence, black magic, me.

I’ve decided to start calling myself that in opposition to the norm. The norm that has whispered in my ear since I was a child ‘you are not it’. Not the ideal product of society. Product is a good intentional word here. When I use this word black excellence I can tell you that excellence has been, if anything, unsustainable. When I consider my ancestors and my parents I think to myself that word. The colorist and racist society that leans towards their criminalization and mine versus the recognition of our brilliance, is truly black excellence.

Because excellence is by definition to be outstandingly good, which is what is expected of us at very high costs. To be hopeful in the midst of black trauma, is excellence. I want to share that because many are not hopeful, too. Many are unable to say a prayer, and rightfully so, since religious hypocrisy is so relevant in our times, but I still pray. Despite the homophobic, transphobic, racist, eugenist historic undertones of this community, is black gay excellence unrecognized.

And in saying that, there is a certain amount of wariness I feel in my soul. There is a certain tired wakefulness I feel to see and to be that example of excellence. To defy the cyclical machine of biases and technologies that try to place me somewhere else. To be held up to the lights of MLK and Obama and be judged in comparison, is black excellence unrecognized.

And to forgive. the conscious, the unconscious. is resilience.

Ya know I would like some sense of freedom though in this life or maybe, at least, the next. I would like to grow nourished. I would like to reimagine this beautiful mess we’re all in. And I feel inspired by it. I feel called to reimagine this world with the tools at my disposal and I know others are, too. I know there are many more ways for us to be empowered in this digital age. I know there is a whole community of people wanting to build collective reparations for the unsustainable society we live in today. And I’m building it now. I can’t wait…

Photo by Reneé Thompson