Why Do Some People Think Black People Can Fly?

“If you wanna fly, you got to give up the [stuff] that weighs you down.” – Toni Morrison. We see traces of a particular tale about our people in movies, books, art, music, and bedtime stories. But where did the notion that Black people could literally “fly away” actually come from?

Why Do Some People Think Black People Can Fly?
Via Wikipedia

Many of us have heard tales of Black people being able to fly, whether in books, films, or bedtime stories. But where did this story about our people come from – and why has it lasted so long?

Our apparent ability to fly is traced to a true story about Igbo Landing. Rather than face enslavement, Africans on a slave ship drowned their captors – and then themselves!

White historians consider this occasion a tragic mass suicide, but our people have another interpretation.

Instead of the Africans drowning in the sea, the story goes that they flew back to Africa! This story was passed down over the ages through oral history. Enslaved Africans in the Americas would say their loved ones flew away to Heaven or to freedom; each generation has its own version.

We also see the story in our literature and art, including in Toni Morrison’s classic novel “Song Of Solomon.” We read about it in children’s books and in folktales.

But unlike the white interpretations of the story, that end in sadness, our stories always end in freedom and celebration. Our narrative understands that the Igbo Landing suicides were an act of rebellion and liberation!

The courage our people showed at Igbo Landing continues to inspire. When we control the narrative and choose to honor our ancestors, we use their sacrifices to teach and find joy in our Blackness.

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