Posted by: Viola | June 17, 2015

Blackness and Whiteness: Two Sides of a Tempting Coin

Blackness and Whiteness: Two Sides of a Tempting Coin

by Viola Allo

Blackness and whiteness are two sides of the same coin. You cannot have one without the other. To embrace one is to give credence to the other. To reject one is to reject the other.

Blackness and whiteness exist together. If you eliminate one, you eliminate the other. This is because blackness and whiteness are a dichotomy, a contrasting pair, a duality. Like conjoined twins, blackness and whiteness are inseparable.

Hold up a coin. Look at one side, then look at the other side. The sides you see might be different, but they are stuck together. Notice that you cannot throw one side of the coin away and keep the other side. All you can do is choose to keep the whole coin, slip it back into your pocket, or choose to give the coin away, toss it away, be rid of it, let it go.

Whiteness and blackness form a coin that society–the world–keeps handing to me. I cannot change that. Racialism is the currency of the world. I walk out my door every day and someone is there, as if waiting for me, and holds out the coin, waves it in my face so that I can see it and feel compelled to accept it.

I can choose to take it, or I can say “No, thanks.” Sometimes, someone throws the coin at me, and before I know what I am doing, I catch the coin, even though I don’t want it. Again, I can choose to give it back, give it away, throw it away. I can drop that coin on the ground and simply walk away.

Blackness and whiteness, if I hold on to them, become such heavy things. Such burdensome things. Can even become such vicious things. If I collect all the coins handed to me, if I load them into my pocket and walk around with them, they accumulate; and over time, they become like a weapon waiting to be deployed, a concealed weapon that is a danger not only to others but to my own self.

The coins in my pocket can cause me great harm. They are heavy, they weigh me down, and they slow my gait. They frustrate me. It is harder for me to walk. They anger me. It is harder for me to talk. They make me jaded and insecure, fearful and uncertain, bitter and unforgiving. If I carry the coins around, it becomes harder for me to live, harder for me to laugh, and harder for me to love.

But if I take all those coins that society keeps trying to foist on me, if I hurl them as far away from me as my arms can throw, I am not weighed down, and I am free. I am so much lighter on my feet. I can leap, I can run, I can soar.

The streets of America are littered with tempting coins, bright and enticing racial coins. But when I walk down the streets of America, I simply step on those coins, kick them aside, shove them out of my way. They have no hold on me.

They have no hold on me. And I am free.

-Viola Allo

Beyond our ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’
doesn’t make sense any more.”
― Rumi

***

By V. Allo. All rights reserved. Please contact the author for permission to use or share this essay.

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