Black Time

History does not disclose the name of the first black person dragged onto a slave ship, the first black person held in newly constructed prisons, or the first black person forcibly recruited to work on a colonial plantation. But black people have been arriving late ever since, hoping that the slavers have left, the ships traveled beyond the horizon, the whip silenced, the work done, the suffering gone.

Black time—whether you call it colored people time (CPT) or African timing (AT) or the deliciousness of syncopation—black time is about delay, interruption, break: strategic lateness.

Black time is long time, deep time, waiting time, excavated time, time around time. The not-here, the not-yet-there, the it-will-be-coming, the it-has-been-to-come, the it’s-not-wasn’t-yet, the it-was-just-here-yet-to-be-now. The fold, the crease, the wrinkle, the tick that does not tock. The tock that does not talk. The silence that does not break. The breaking that will not be broken. The.


Black time is hungry time. Ravenous time. Gluttonous time. Cannibal time.

Black time is waiting time, time after the reservation, time after other people’s time, time cut by other people’s time, time as didn’t-see-you, time as can-you-wait, time as you-again, time as I-don’t-have-time-for-this-shit.

Black time is dropped consonants, slipped sounds, skipped beats, don’t-wanna-ain’t-gonna-coz-it-don’t-make-no-difference time. Black time is learned time, doing time, time done, time-to-do, time-never-done, time-undone. Time-served, time-to-serve, time-serving, time-unserved, time-put-off, time-for-time, pipeline-time, skipping-time, cut-time, time-cut, cutting-time.

I haven’t seen you for a minute.

Sorry I’m posting this late. I was running behind.

6 thoughts on “Black Time

  1. This is amazing, naked poeticism! I especially like how you ended it. Black time is something I adhere to religiously!

  2. “…black time is about delay, interruption, break: strategic lateness”
    I have been socialized to think black time is absolutely unacceptable (thanks to years in academia) so I get so rigid about ‘keeping time’ and policing others to ‘keep time’ I love this new take on it…there is nothing wrong with us. we perform black time:’strategic lateness’ because we can; it is our own form of resistance. Thank you for articulating this.

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