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  • Writer's pictureNajah Amatullah

Don't Stop Living

The Black Lives Matter Movement is in full force. There are many things to rally for and pay attention to. Economics and education affect power structures. We all need more money and more knowledge. And we have to stay healthy.

And Pokemon Go! just came out. And some say that games and movies and sports and fun are all just distractions from what's really going on.

But, Markus Prime - a fantastic visual artist whose work and social commentary have made him pretty Instagram famous - posted something really important a couple of weeks ago. "You so mad you forgot to live. Don't stop living. That's what they want."

Add that to two important words I read from Haley Morgan in the book she wrote with Jess Connolly. Haley said she's very discerning and accurate in her ability to notice that a woman she encounters is "living defensively."

Their book is called Wild and Free. And that's what we're fighting for, isn't it? Freedom.

After observing the Brave New Voices youth poetry festival in DC this past week, and seeing all of the pain and fear and trauma that American teenagers carry in their hearts everyday, my heart is yearning for freedom. I stood and cried at the end of the final competition. I want them to experience true freedom, and I believe for some of them that being on that stage is how they'll get there. I want to experience true freedom.

I have worn braids for a year to free up more time. I didn't want to spend hours every week caring for my hair. I wanted to be free to get up and go without feeling like I looked crazy. Until I feel comfortable wearing headwraps to work, I've got to have presentable hair.

Some freedom we can take right now and some we have to work a while longer for.

Black people across America are searching for financial freedom by committing more of their dollars to black-owned businesses and banking black. I am considering the latter.

I already get the biggest chunk of my income from the blackest school district I know of.

But we were challenged to do a blackout last week and only purchase from black businesses. A list of black makeup companies started circulating. If anyone is unaware, I sort-of work for a makeup company where the CEOs are not black. I have to admit that day I legitimately considered disassociating myself from that company in order to put more of my efforts into the black community.

It would not have been a wrong decision.

It is also not a wrong decision to decide to stay put.

I realized that is what Haley meant when she said "living defensively." I would be eliminating a potentially large stream of income and chopping off a bigger business idea (that I haven't revealed yet) at the knees so that I would later be able to defend my commitment to blackness.

I didn't need to continue reading the book (I will, once I've fully processed this) to understand that there is higher freedom than that. I want to be free to pull in extra income. I want to be free to like the photos of and have conversations about makeup and empowerment with non-black (and black!) women across the globe.

I don't want to stop living. I have always liked to look pretty. I like to play in makeup for the same reason I like to draw and doodle and carry around a stupidly large quantity of multi-colored pens. I enjoy aesthetics. Some of the black makeup companies look great and I am excited to cheat on my company with them when I have more money! Lol. But I don't want to curtail my freedom in order prove I'm super black.

Make whatever sacrifice you feel convicted to make. Work for your community. Tell everyone that Black Lives Matter and then behave like you believe that.

But also play Pokemon Go and watch superhero movies and read Twilight and wear discounted makeup and have friends all the colors of the rainbow. Don't stop living. That's what your enemies want.

Stay tuned for a discussion on who our enemies really are.

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