blackie: a story by roy kinsey

at my grandmothers funeral, the matriarch of our small family, who helped my mother and others in rearing and raising me, i didn’t leave my seat to say anything. rather, i couldn’t leave my seat to say anything. my world was rocked. i hadn’t known a world where her warmth, her sweetness had not existed.

when my cousin was murdered, i drove to the church where his body lie, walking past hysterical brothers and his broken hearted mother, and stood in the open doors, never approaching the casket. i did not have the courage to view him in what had become his new present, physical state. we’d grown up together. this was too soon, too surprising, too eerie. i left when the service began.

there were those accosted. intimidated. impeded upon. imprisoned. there were those cut down by police officers gone scared, gone rogue, racists gone mad, or brethren who’d grown unrecognizable.

then there was me. mere degrees away. separated only by time, by story, by day. me, a shell of a self i’d once known that had too, grown unfamiliar. a witness to their lives. attempting to make a transition into the next stage of my own life, battling parts of myself that could no longer live if i truly wanted to. the things of youth; innocence, vitality, life, waning. battles with self esteem, substance, and trauma inherited from my family, dancing with trauma of my own. murders of unarmed black folk on corporate loop. on nbc and fox. twitter, instagram, and facebook. people suffering from illness of the spirit, soul and mind. people dying from addiction in plain sight.

it was then that i embarked on telling the story of blackie. the story of a kid teased for being called “too black,” but quickly soothed by parents that said, “the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice.” a black, gay, boy who would dare to look our toxically masculine society, and hip-hop culture in the face, saying, i too have a story to tell. the continued story being the product of parents born in the sixties, and grandparents who participated in the great migration. blackie was me pulling pieces together. connecting. forming conclusions that somehow had not add up.

i created blackie to eulogize my grandmother. to pay respects to my cousin. locating a voice, and eyes, to learn my story, realizing that if i was to have the audacity, or courage to survive my loved ones deaths, creativity and healing, for me, would be non-negotiable.

i’ve heard that there is no bright side to losing a life. i’ve experienced a deeper appreciation for life in understanding that there will be a time, where those we cherish, will no longer be with us. communication will one day cease. symbolized by the heart and the plus sign, i chose the logo that represents blackie to emphasize the transition from merely surviving to thriving. in understanding that if you are here, there is an intelligence that is universal, that wanted it so. i wanted to share that understanding.

blackie is an attempt in healing. by investigation, and experience. blackie is a line of questioning. a self examination. a posing of the question, why do i not feel at home in my own home? in my body. in my city. in my country. a questioning, why does this not feel like a good life? a good life was the bargain, and i thought i held my end up. what can i do to make it one?

blackie is an attempt to heal my inner child. to invite him out from hiding. to assure him that the life molded + nurtured by those who’d come before him, is one of aspiration, of richness and wealth. to congratulate him on reaching his first saturn return. to assure him that we have gotten stronger, by conquering 100 percent of the obstacles presented us thus far, and are just maybe strong enough to envision a life of gratitude, individuality, creation, abundance and wellness.

blackie is a journey inward, after being dissatisfied, hurt, and wounded by what i’d witnessed on the outside. blackie is a hope in changing both. the inner and outer. perception, and reality. knowing that true transformation takes effort. The life blackie and I  have envisioned, is not a passive undertaking. blackie is my own alchemical process. the extraction of love, wisdom, healing and art. the bringing of light where there was none. it was making an assessment, “when i reach my grandmother’s age, what kind of life will i want to have lived?” “was i able to face and heal the symptoms of life, promised to come?” “will i be able to do it with information, with style, with love, with grace?”

blackie is eulogy. reference. an invoice. a call to repair. reflection & jubilee.