The Black Body: An Ode

By Chelcee Loraine. Photos by Deun Ivory

The Black Body is a force; soft, strong, a protest, a purveyor, an ancestral space. This Black History month at Black Girl in Om we're highlighting all the black body has been and will be; as it holds us and as we nurture it. From the billowing harsh winds of this country’s eldest sin of slavery to the freedoms found in rebellion, in proclamation. The Black Body, the black woman’s body, has journeyed for centuries into, out of, and back within herself.

I think of the women crossing the transatlantic, the women praying over her children at night, the black body holding her youth, the black woman’s body holding itself; finding voice and dance, and asanas and prayer as deliverance. The black woman’s body forgetting the world’s fetishism and becoming wholly in love with itself. Oh, the Black Body, the black woman’s body is a steeple, we glorify.

Do you recall realizing those limbs of yours, brown limbs, belonged to this brilliant, resilient catalog of blackness? That soul of yours sheltered safely within a lineage of ancestors. Oh, the Black body is sacred. And, sensual. And, regenerating.

When is the last time you praised it, your body?

For carrying you through, for introducing you to yourself through song, dance, tears, first love, first religion, first heartache; through protest and late days when you forget to nourish yourself. When is the last time you’ve held church for your black body?

When is the last time you let go? You rippled with the grief that may need to be faced, or reveled in glory of pleasure… or the breath. Yes, the black breath. When you heard protestors, shouting “We can’t breathe!” and you felt the tension, because it was one of your own. Or, you found a soft landing, a safe space in another black body’s love. When is the last time you said hallelujah for the skin’s sake? That it, of course, is never just skin, but flesh and soul.

This month, we pause to do so. To reflect on the black bodies who have blazed trails for the black bodies now present and we reclaim space, reclaim healing and wellness.

Yes, a reclamation, a taking the black body back. Maybe, you don’t feel as tethered, maybe the hustle of everyday life has left your black body out of rhythm. This month, journey with us as we focus on ways to restore, to praise, to honor the black body through the mind, the soul, the spaces we show up and, of course, this body we show up with.

There’s a book titled, The Body Keeps Score by Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk and then the transformative work of Dr. Joy DeGruy in Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America's Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing - each book honors all that our bodies have gone through and what we carry in them; how the body changes as a result. The latter title suggests we, as Black Bodies, carry so much from our lineage and history. The Black Body was brought to America as a commodity, but love, look how we’ve transformed.

We are still healing, still fighting, yet shapeshifting anew. As we spend this month honoring all the black bodies whom have fought, died, sung, and prayed us through we also take a moment to intentionally praise the black body. Because when and where do you really get a time to do so? To marvel at all it does with and for you.

I have no takeaways, no easy answers, or questions to ask yourself; just a request. Dance a little in your room tonight. Praise this buoyant, layered, transformative, soft, strong, glorious black body of yours for all it has carried you through. Roll you neck, wine your hips, arch your back, sway your shoulders. But dance, when so much of the world would like to stifle your move. Move, release that Black body and make it all yours again. Reclaim, rejoice, render it the best kind of love; an ode.

How do you care for, praise, nurture and protect your Black Body? Be it through protest, or mindful eating, travel or beauty that penetrates beyond the skin, we’d love to hear from you. Send your pitches to Editor@BlackGirlInOm.com.

Chelcee Loraine is a publishing professional, Detroit native, editor, and word & world-loving soul. Based in Harem, her passion for the power of the written word & highlighting often policed narratives has led her to work in publishing for the past decade with organizations such as Simon & Schuster, Moguldom Media Group, Serendipity Literary Agency, the New York Times and writing for the likes of Ebony. In a rupturing political climate and blooming social change, BGIO is the place Chelc is able to create a community of safe space in our collective stories as Publication Editor. She is empowered by the (inner)work! With that said, her self-care go to is journaling, prayer and meditation.