In the second of four essays, Atmos collaborates with interdisciplinary art and archival research studio The Bureau on “A Drop of Sun,” a series asking Black artists and writers to imagine Black futurity through rigorous exploration of abolition, radicalized environmentalism, and robust artistic expression. Here, author Malanda Jean-Claude imagines a world in which Black imagination is the faculty of freedom.
How often do I speak to the sun about you?
There is an illusion of scarcity to the Black imagination, a stifled curiosity to be Earth-born. We have been deprived of the wingspan of creative energy, of curiosity, of the engagement of new ideas as contribution to a world unfolding. We are fragments of ancient knowledge furled in human poems. To the casual observer—there are stories that take place in the Black body detectable by glance. Black, the architect for magic. A cosmo bending comet, a phoenix surviving the fire.
As Black people, we are oftentimes denied the privacy of our own minds. The sacred act of breathing is costly when your skin is judged criminal. Consequently, monotony is the affliction. We are the language they fear. An eclipsed tongue breaking through, still vibrating. When I think Black, I think love synonymous. Boys flowered, crowned regal before reparation. Fathers morphed light into prisms and wrestled titans for truth. Mothers loved men who cradled hearts gentle before they were far away dreams.
Before the sky called celestial, you were home; you were love.
Lovers birthed under coiled trees, constellations turned secret pathways to sacred gardens. Black women were light thoughts. The umbilical cord of loving, luminance and allure.
Black existence has always been deeply rooted in love. We have to collectively undertake the responsibility of reframing the intimacy of our people—for love is a binding sacrifice. A road back to a sacred truth that Black existence is life longing for itself; searching, as an orator of the sun. We must not falter or derail in our demands for a Black future where boys can live through ages of men—before the sky held flowers, Earth made fathers who gave roses. A future where mothers are stars and horizons. We are mahogany’s devotion. I want to exist in the ether where Black women are loved, adorned until gardens ooze from their speech.
Black futurity is dependent on our moral strength to re-imagine love as the center point of our existence. When the architect remembers the sun, alchemy is formed in each thought turned matter. Each layer a stretch for that which has always been hereditary. A Black future is laughter planted in our bellies, crashing waves, rent free—each echo a birth revered by the sun.
The Black imagination cannot be contained, it is the faculty of our freedom, a salvation for a love that cannot be bound or bought by a system. To be Black is to aim at the sky, both arms, raised like a barrel in memory of who we have always been. A kaleidoscope. To be Black, is to be as faithful as love is to freedom.