A Masterclass in Race. From a Black Girl

Mother God

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy Sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”

~Psalm 19:14 KJV Amen.


The Cambridge English Dictionary defines a masterclass as,

a class taught by someone who has an expert knowledge or skill in a particular area.

Welcome to my masterclass in Race. I feel called to undertake this discussion, despite bristling at the term “Masterclass,” as it sounds too much like “Master.” Admittedly, while there is no historical context for my concern regarding the term, the language is charged; I do not wield it lightly. So much of the life I live is a curated navigation of language, tone, and context. It is exhausting.

Regarding Race, I know whereof I speak. While scholars assert that the notion of race results from “cultural interventions stemming from colonialism,” imposed upon countless populations reaching back to Western conquests of the 15th century, that changes neither its reality nor the construct’s impact on my life.

Black Girl

I choose to call myself a Black Girl, even as I withhold that intimacy from you. I can choose to be a girl, light, young, and free. Michelle Obama, former first lady of the United States, my forever FLOTUS, reminded me that “Black Girls Rock, We rock!” in a speech delivered during her husband’s first term. I was there. I was in the room. With my daughter. Michelle is right.

You may NOT call me a girl. From your lips it is a slur, dismissive of my full power. With it, you attempt to cut me to size, like your ancestors who, as boys called my grandfather “boy,” and his wife “girl,” because they could.

You may never call me girl.


What I No Longer Do

I no longer give my power away. Living out the charge of Matthew 7:6, I no longer cast my pearls before swine. Scripture teaches us that we are called to be neither hypocritical nor judgmental. However, we are called to discernment, lest we waste our time or our gifts.

Once upon a time I patiently taught tolerance. Once upon a time I educated, explained, giving insight into my world and its nuance, hoping an oppressive world would finally see and embrace me.

Instead, that oppressive world reminds me that while Black Lives Matter, they do so at its convenience. I now recognize that Privilege and Supremacy rest upon expecting everyone to concede to your way because that’s how it’s always been. Who, in their right mind, would cede that position, the Universe centered around you, for generations, without a fight?

What I no longer do is give a single damn.

Why I No Longer Care

I no longer care because in this America, at this time, whether you care about our Black Lives or not, a great cloud of witnesses has arisen, and there are more of us than there are of you. Painting a picture for your reference, in desperation, your privilege and supremacy are fighting for survival like the second and third monkeys speeding up the gangway on Noah’s Ark . . . and baby, it’s starting to rain.
About your fragility? About your tears?
I care precisely as much as you do:

  • About Black Lives Matter.
  • And telling us how to protest.
  • And defining for us what beauty looks like.
  • And repeatedly expecting us to conform to your fluid sense of what’s appropriate, even as you consistently redefine what’s acceptable for us, in your opinion.

Yeah. That much.

God First. The Rest of Y’all, Whenever.

This is the least snarky t-shirt I own, and I wore it this week. Let me explain why…

Grace does change everything. However, let me disabuse you of the notion that Grace excuses everything. When you cause harm, your victim may extend Grace. Working to repair the harm and restoring the breach is up to you. For God’s sake, stop being lazy. Not only does your lack of investment in doing restorative work exacerbate the harm, it may further aggravate it. Meditate on that. Racism kills.

Now, should I be the object of your harm, let us be clear,

I ain’t Jesus.

You are likely NOT to be the recipient of much Grace from me. While I will most likely forgive you, I will never forget. I have generational memory. 401 years’ worth. I serve God, and to God I am accountable.

The rest of y’all . . . whatever.

This Is Who I Am

I am descended from enslaved Africans. 401 years ago, my ancestors were kidnapped, ripped from their homes, and stripped of their language and their culture. Those who survived the journey, those who did not choose the sea, were brutalized into centuries of chattel slavery.

That is the foundation upon which America and its wealth stand.

If you are not descended from enslaved Africans, you likely benefit from their labor.

Full Stop.

Before you resist, deflect, or pout, sit with these truths. Your deflections serve no purpose. Your resistance is futile, and the reason why much of what this country and institutions have defended for centuries now lie in ruin.

Once you stop holding your breath, overwhelmed by the terror of it all, I commend you to begin practicing radical acceptance. Radical acceptance, according to Dr. Karyn Hall, “is about accepting life on life’s terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical acceptance is about saying yes to life, just as it is.”

Before the next time you compliment a Black woman on her resilience, her tenacity, or her grace and faith, appreciate this. We have practiced radical acceptance for centuries.

This is who I am.

Fear Not. Well, Fear Maybe?

You have little to fear from me, though you’d do well to be wary.

I am the watcher.

I see.

I remember.

Fear those who in the words of James Baldwin, writing more than 50 years ago, are truly dangerous.

“The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.”

― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Herein ends the lesson.
Chelle Wilson
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