I am a Louisiana Tech student from Cameroon. As an African man, the African-American woman is the point of my deliberation.Over at Tech, “Black” and “White” are juxtaposed, so everything appears grey and vapid.
At Grambling, I see the rainbow with all its shades – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
We, physics majors, take pride in listing all the rainbow colors in their right order.
It is this mélange of richness and diversity that I seek to accentuate in the Grambling woman – the Black woman, the rainbow woman.
So who are these ladies with thick curls, cornrows, vibrant hair weaves, and microbraids?
Who is she who reveals her beauty in a plenitude of forms, some pear, apple, coke-bottle, cornet or cello, hourglass or pin-shaped?
Can we emancipate humankind without emancipating her? Who is Guinier or Giovanni?
Is she just an entry on an excel spreadsheet in the socio-economic struggle, or is she the foundation for intense philosophical deliberation on gender and color?
It is my claim that by addressing the latter we will resolve the former.
In Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, “Man” denotes the post-slavery Negro amidst an identity war. What of the “Invisible Woman?”
Isn’t this rainbow woman today the new invisible protagonist?
Is she the new protagonist or did addressing her issue slip our minds in the ’60s when the Invisible Man was written?
The ghosts of a previous generation shall haunt us not.
This invisible woman whose social constructs have forced her to “fight” her own kind in a feminist version of Ellison’s “battle royal” is the woman I seek to manumit.
But how do I, particularly, and we, generally, make visible that which is invisible?
By the fact that we mention the invisible rainbow woman in the room, acknowledges that she – like the rainbow – remains visible in her invisibility.
This is not because of luck, but by her very nature of being multi-colored, full of radiance, and a historical sine qua non.
Gone are the days when we worshipped patriarchal tales like woman-created-from-a-man’s-rib or colonial slavery.
Today, if I am, some Black woman was, so that I could be. It is that simple. Period.
Through poetry, Iranian mystics wrote about a man who went to the edges of the earth searching for a gift to bring to the woman, but got frustrated and ended up bringing her a mirror so she could look into it and remember him.
I bring myself, like a mirror, to the feet of the rainbow woman, in the same light as the wandering man.
This is to help the multi-colored lady as she looks at me and remembers that, not only am I a reflection of her, but I am also from her and of her.
And like the caged bird that sings in Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, rainbow woman, no more will you sing “with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for.”
You’ll be the “free bird [who] thinks of another breeze . and names the sky her own.”
Manaen Mundi, a junior math/physics major at Louisiana Tech, is from Yaounde, Cameroon.