Once upon a Black Imagination ...

The space of Blackness represents safety because this is where everyone can finally belong. The clumsy fantasy of Whiteness has finally been moved off the stage and back into the audience after being muted for taking up too much space.

People who previously believed they weren’t Black because they never believed Black to be synonymous with “human’’ unlearn their antiblackness, upend the clumsy possum of their proxy privilege, back away from the hot trash of color-blind rhetoric and stop talking about the impossibility of walking a mile in the shoes of others. No one apologizes for being Black because Being Black is more of a “you’re welcome” situation.

We are finally allowed to make mistakes and express our emotions and be as mediocre as we can allow ourselves to be. After 8 generations, we have forgotten the ways we now call “dominant” and make space for loving ourselves for no reason.


Copyright © 2021 by Natasha Marin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 30, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“‘Once upon a Black Imagination …’ comes from a practice of steeping myself in the Black Imaginary. I imagine Cities of Laughter, Cities of Tears, I imagine Redemption. I imagine safety and value and love and community. This poem is one of a series. Black Imagination takes many forms—exhibitions, books, audio—there are no limits to the Black Imagination and I feel honored to be a curator of this project and the recipient of these imaginary ‘visions’ if you will.”
Natasha Marin