Perhaps it’s being the daughter of a school teacher. Maybe it’s because I just passed my 41st birthday. But I always feel a bit nostaligic around the end of August and September always feels like a chance for new beginings.
I was told by an Akashic reader recently that, actual calendar date aside, I’m in a season of Winter. And that in this season, I should rest and eat and play and decide what I’m ready to let go of so that when my Spring comes I feel ready to bloom.
My 2021, like yours, was and is a shit show. There are lots of things working and each morning I thank the Universe for what is. But I also think it’s toxic to not face, and sit with, the things that broke my heart.
Racism isn’t new to me. I remember being called an Oreo in the 3rd grade. I was called a Nigger, by a teacher, in the 5th grade. “You’re so pretty for a Black girl” , “you speak so well“, and “She’s not really Black” (after racist joke has been told to group) were all phrases I heard reguarlly by the time I was in high school.
For the sake of education, or greater opportunities, my mother like most in the 80’s and 90’s perceived White spaces to be better spaces. And I spent most of my formative life becoming more palatable for White people so that they were more comfortable in my presence. I straightened my hair and wore weaves because my natural hair made your hands reach for my scalp and your eyes widen. I allowed you to say things around me, that shook the ancestors in me, because when I stood up for myself you got red and called me angry and difficult. I’ve been the only brown spot in more brunches on Park Ave than I care to mention because the idea of Harlem seems to make your skin itch and suddenly you’re not so hungry anymore but I am and so I acquiesce to calm your nerves and I’ll just laugh about it later over martinis at Red Rooster with all the other brown girls who did the same that day.
I reflect this Winter, and I think about all of the things people of color have had to grieve this season. All of the ways in which the trauma tied to our hue is triggered every day and yet this grief is also so new because so much of our loss now is tied to people who are still here…
My early grief, after losing my parents, taught me that there is a box for everyone. Some people showed me they should be put in the “call me for a drink” box cause their emotional band- with was low but they made me laugh and joy was necessary! Some got put in the “see only at public functions” cause grief made MY band- with low and they were exhausting. I got lucky though and a few made it to the “ride or die for life” box and with them i knew that i could show up sobbing and clutching my cat at 3am and i had someone to sit with.
Grief showed me that there were people that sent texts and then there were people who drove in snowstorms to hold your hand. My parents dying drew a line in the sand and some will do what’s hard in order to show up for you.
But this Civil Rights Movement drew a line in the sand too, and what I’ve realized is, very few people are willing to do what’s hard when race is a factor and that those boxes needed to be revisited again.
You see… when you tell your family that you’re taking care of your grieving friend. You look like a saint. When you tell your friends that you sit with me while I cry and we travel together and share our pain you look like an incredibly selfless person and, whether you realize it or not, it makes you feel good about yourself and your ego is fed. On top of that, grieving or not, I’m a great fucking time so what exactly is the sacrifice here?!?
Being anti- racist means that you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. It means you have to sit at dinner tables and go against people you share blood with, for those with whom you do not. It means you might lose other friends who didn’t realize how “political” you are. It means your job, and your clients, might see that you’re not voting for the candidate that gives them tax breaks and you might not be as busy as you’d like to be. It demands you having to admit that your life was designed to be easier than others and not everyone can sit with that truth.
These are the hard truths I faced:
If I am writing a Blog post about being chased from THREE towns by racists cops and having to hide out in a stranger’s driveway, it’s not okay to repost my blog but not actually reach out to me. Reposting makes other people think you’re close to the movement and those harmed. (PERFORMATIVE) Picking up a phone or messaging me and saying ” I saw your Blog, what can I do to help?” is being a friend. (ALLY)
When I write an article about the phrase “I don’t see color” and even after you’ve heard THIS Black woman explain why it’s so offensive, it is SHOCKING to send me an email explaining why YOU’RE hurt that you can’t say that anymore and that YOU’RE offended as a White woman. It’s also confusing as to why you decided I was talking to YOU. It’s called White fragility and I’M offended that you thought the email was acceptable. I’m also horrified that in your defense of said email on why you are “clearly” not a racist , (insert eye roll) you cited, the black boys that you help in your school district. My jaw truly dropped on that one.
If I only had 1 White friend, and every day arrived with headlines about White people being killed by cops, or young White girls getting acid thrown in their face at traffic lights, or yet another protest demanding rights for White people, you can bet your ass I’d remember to check on my White friend. It’s not okay to say things like “I was busy” , “I got tied up” or “You don’t usually like to talk on the phone“. We’re talking about my civil rights and those of people who look like me, not what I had to eat for lunch that week. I am not being needy. I am terrified.
So why am I sharing this?
Because I’m not alone in this. I stand alongside countless people of color who were forced to end friendships with people they loved because those people weren’t ready to make “good trouble”. I sit with all the Black women who figured out that some of their girlfriends weren’t the allies they believed they had in their corner. I walk in the sadness of grieving not just the widespread attack on people that look me but the awareness that I am still too Black for some that know me intimately. I am irate that when White people find out that we’ve ended these friendships, that many still say “Don’t you think you’re being a bit hard on her?” as if we are being silly about demanding that people see ALL of us. I’m sharing this because I hope my White readers think about their own friends of color and re-evaluate what kind of friend you’ve been to them. Believe me when I tell you, it doesn’t matter that you’ve been friends for years or had drinks or cried together 10 years ago. How did you show up during the Civil Rights Movement??? If you find out that she’s moved YOU into a different box, do the self work. SHE is not the problem here. SHE is not too sensitive. YOU are not sensitive enough.
There’s something to be said for Winter and it’s bitter hold. A sort of refining happens. A release of what’s not longer necessary. And I hope, those that look like me, are doing to the same. Let us lick our wounds if we must and then gather our strength so that we can do what WE have always done. Rise again… and this time, let them choke on all of this melanin magic. We are not here to be palatable.
Bloom LOUDLY my friends.