“The Main Ingredient”

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This is part of an ongoing spotlight created by Black@TED, TED’s employee resource group for staff who identify as Black.


An ineffable chemistry chose us.
Our shades, hues, textures—


Complex polymers form to produce our Melanin Coat of Arms.
The beauty of formidable, dominant genes that code our entire experience.
Us, the sums of our valiant ancestors.

Rebirth as intergenerational.
Not trauma, but
and Jazz.

A jazz for life, despite it all.

You’d think with all the violence practiced and refined on Black bodies—

the brutality, the imprisonment, the maternal mortality rate, the environmental racism, the redlining, the literal theft of Black female features, the warfare on our culture, language, land, and physical recording of lineage—

that an extinction would have occurred.

here we are.


ain’t goin nowhere!

Our bones are made of mercy and favor.
Created from an impenetrable alchemy,
We are sacred matter.
An elixir that can’t be

Duplicated, or

Forever the main ingredient.

What an honor to be destined for never-ending renaissance.
The only opportunity in which we are afforded a new beginning—to

Repurpose, and
The Black Existence.

Always, and only—

On our terms.


Malanna Wheat is a Black woman, writer and researcher, most passionate about the intersections between race, space, gender and social control by way of infrastructural design. In probing identity formations, her research examines what the prison space teaches Black and Brown womxn to internalize through its racial gendering, and what representation looks like against a backdrop of spatialized normalcy — how infrastructural spaces, like the slave ship, the prison, the sidewalk, the ‘urban’ inner city and/or ‘ghetto,’ are designed to herd ‘othered’ identities in such a way that nearly everyone who takes up space looks the same and therefore skews the perception of ‘standard,’ as well as the perception of what we, as Black and Brown people, envision for our lives — what we deserve, where we can go, and lastly what is owed to us on the grounds of human decency, justice and dignity. Her writing concerns the surveillance of Black and Brown bodies and minds as a living manifesto that racial matters are spatial matters.