Why I walked into Cafe Mac naked: Having a black body at Mac

I entered Café Mac on Feb. 24 with only my jacket, wool socks and jays. I took a stand against racial profiling and stereotypes that morning by eating breakfast without anything but those items on my body. I was battling racial stereotypes and gender norms associated with the black male body and associations of African-Americans. The black male body is perceived as aggressive and dangerous within the heteronormative structure of these United States of America. This false representation evokes feelings of anxiety and fear within the white populace, leading to the misinterpretations of African-Americans. Exposure therapy is an attested and empirically backed method of anxiety relief. I feel it of the utmost importance that a population such as that of Macalester College see the black male body and the brown-skinned flesh that has been fueling and preserving this country’s ideals with regards to the body.

At first, security was called. This security guard, Andy, asked what I was advocating for. In telling him he proceeded to threaten to call the local authorities. He contacted Laurie Hamrie to speak with me. It wasn’t until speaking with these authorities that I realized what the true battle was. I was battling the dualism I experience daily with perceptions of who I am as a person and how my body influences how others react to me. I was dealing with what they truly see when looking at an individual such as me – a “black man,” “brown person,” “an African-American” or any of the many terms placed upon my soul and pressed onto my person through my clothing.

I did this alone and did not appropriate cultural stereotypes of African-Americans in groups being violent. I do not think that it was extreme. In no manner is the black body respected as a human being’s body by any institution set through white supremacy in this entire nation, a nation built by the black body and African slaves. I did it not for protest or scare tactics, but for the effect of a living black man that is not lifeless on the street in a pool of blood, mutilated or hung from a tree due to appropriation of hate, a hate of the self and a body shame associated with cultural norms of the majority dominant racial category of this society. These societal pressures exist on levels that I am sure affect everyone, yet leave me in a particular situation of feeling a void within the self and detached from the roots of my inner being.

I am currently working with Jim Hoppe in designating a time and place on Macalester grounds that allows for the safe expression of the societal pressures associated with the body. In this scenario, students could partake in the form of expression stated earlier that advocates for the live-ness of one as they are and the form their soul inhabits. I believe that my visual and now textual statements are in need of follow-up efforts in the fight against structural inequalities enforced systematically and accepted by the general public. Hopefully these words will keep the core of the efforts at hand and drive the Macalester community to discuss said issues with contextual terminology from the source. I believe in these efforts and know they will bring about much needed change and a brighter future.