When I was a little girl my Mommy read me fairy tales.
Princes on horses who would come and save me.
Brave men who traveled great distances
to save princesses.
The princesses were always blond
Nothing like me.
But I believed.
And I wanted desperately
to be saved.
No decisions to make
no battles to face
a brave prince
that would cover me
ride me in to my happily
ever after on his brave and reliable steed.
I kissed frog after frog after frog after frog
He was coming
to absolve me
of decision making.
I put the responsibility
in the wrong hands
time after time after time after time after time.
And do you know who saved me?
Blood and by choice.
Helped me find my voice
cleaned my wounds
pointed me at the mirror
YOU ARE CAPABLE!
YOU ARE ABLE!
And I didn’t believe them.
Kept looking on the horizon
for the prince I just knew was coming.
But my sisters
they were there.
Showing up. Reflecting care.
Loving me more than I did.
biting back the “I told you sos.”
Nothing but helpful.
I’m writing new books for my daughter.
Princes are amazing.
But your sisters?
Babygirl your sisters
Choose them wisely.
They give selflessly.
And they never leave.
My fairy tales for my princess girl
are about sisters who stand by her side
eyes open brimming with pride.
Brave and true.
Slaying dragons AND looking fly.
Scared but brave
not afraid to cry.
Look to your sisters babygirl
leave the frogs for the other girls who do not know.
Yesterday my four year old asked me why people kill other people. I thought she was sleeping. I had the news on. She must have been awake and listening for a while. I had no clue. Her innocent little voice broke the spell that I was under. I had been transfixed to the television listening intently to the stories of the people who lost their lives in Paris. I turned to her. I opened my arms so she could climb in to my lap. I kissed her forehead. I inhaled deeply and said a quick prayer for guidance.
I was so unprepared. We have been so vigilant with the t.v. and news coverage. We have worked hard to keep it all away from her. We have taken turns going upstairs to watch the news while the other parent keeps her occupied. Innocence is so fleeting. The ugliness of the world will touch her eventually, but not yet, we kept thinking. Not yet. But here it was. She had heard. She wanted answers.
I rambled. I spoke about good and evil. I leaned on our faith and our trust in God. I spoke about love being stronger than hate. I spoke about angry people who make angry choices. I simplified it so much that my words were honestly a lie. But how do I explain Syria and terrorism to a 4 year old when I barely understand it myself? It was beyond me in that moment but I tried.
“But when people die they are gone forever? Why would someone do that to people?”
The lump in my throat and the pain in my heart precluded conversation.
“I don’t know baby. I honestly do not know.” I cried. Quiet tears running down my face as I held her and rocked her.
I keep thinking about that conversation. My Little Bit is a thinker and I know she will have more questions for me soon. I want to be ready. I’ve been practicing answers in my head and in my journal. See, I want to be honest with her. I want to share as much truth with her as she can handle. I don’t want her to have to unlearn the things her Mommy told her. I don’t want her to bump in to the ugly truths of the world on a college campus or in a high school classroom. I want to be honest.
So, here’s my answer…
“Babygirl people can be incredibly mean to each other. It’s always been that way. Remember that little girl on your bus who hurt your feelings and made fun of you? There was no reason for her meanness. You didn’t do anything wrong to her. She was mean. And it was wrong. Remember how we talked about how sad it was that she didn’t give you a chance to be her friend? Remember how we considered that maybe someone in her life was mean to her? Maybe no one taught her how to make friends. Maybe she was sad and angry inside and she just took it out on you.
Sometimes that happens with people. Some people grow up in other countries where they are treated unfairly. Some people live in places where it is incredibly dangerous to live. Sometimes they watch people they love get hurt or killed just because they live there. It makes them hurt and sad and angry. And they have every right to feel hurt and sad and angry because what is happening to them is wrong.
And some of these people blame us. They are angry that we don’t do anything to stop the people who are hurting the people they love. They are angry that our government helps the people who are hurting and killing the people they love. They are angry that their kids are growing up scared. And they aren’t wrong. We didn’t hurt their loved ones but we didn’t stop it either.
These people want to hurt us. They want us to feel what they feel. They want us to be scared. They want us to know how it feels to lose people we love. They want us to make the people hurting their loved ones stop. It doesn’t make sense to us. Why would they hurt innocent people? Why would they hurt people who didn’t hurt them?
It doesn’t make sense to us. But it should. If we took a moment to think about what it’s like to live where they live and to watch the world ignore your pain we might understand their anger. If someone hurt you or someone else I loved it might make me incredibly angry.
What they did is wrong. Killing people is always wrong. But their pain isn’t wrong. Their anger at us for ignoring their pain isn’t wrong. Their anger at the people in charge of our country isn’t wrong. People kill people because they are angry. They are hurting. People kill people because their pain is ignored. They kill because the world isn’t paying attention to their pain and it seems to just go on and on forever.
You see how sad everyone is about what happened in Paris? I don’t know how much you heard on the news but everyone is sad about the people who died. People are leaving flowers and notes. People are crying and hugging each other. And people are angry about what happened. The people in charge of Paris are already dropping bombs and hurting the people who live in the country the killers came from. No one is crying for them. And this just makes more angry people who want to kill.
The world has always been like this Little Bit. I don’t know how long it will take for the people in charge to realize that hurting each other doesn’t fix anything. I wish I could promise that it won’t happen again. All we can do is try to fill the world with as much love as possible. All we can do is try to tell the people in charge of our country that we don’t want to be in the business of hurting people. All we can do is focus on the humanity of every person.
And Little Bit, we trust in God. We believe that it is our job not to be afraid but to trust in God. We believe it is our job to spread love. We grieve for the people who lost their lives but we believe that they are in heaven. Sometimes the world is full of scary things but we trust God. We will be okay Little Bit. We will always be okay. Bad things will happen but we will trust in God.
If I could live anywhere in the world that I haven’t visited I would move to the Republic of Botswana. I have always wondered what it would be like to live in Africa. Really most places on The Continent fascinate me. But Botswana is special. It’s landlocked. It’s mostly desert. It’s not densely populated. It’s government is Democratic and not grossly corrupt. And if I am totally honest I grew interested in the country when reading The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. LOL
It’s hard to explain how it feels to be a Black person living in America. It’s hard to explain how it feels to long for a connection to something timeless. A history, a culture, rites of passage all of it is denied us. My Father is in to genealogy. He’s done a lot of work tracing my ancestors in this country and beyond but slavery changed us as a people and there is a part of me that will always wonder what it would be like if we have never been uprooted. A continent too vast to wrap my arms around is the missing piece of my soul.
To be Black in America is to live in the legacy of slavery. Some people refuse to even attempt to understand it but it’s true. We were brought here as slaves. We did what we had to do to survive. We fought for our freedom. We got freedom but was it truly freedom or another subjugation? We fought our way through that. We “won” integration and voting rights. We made strides. We learned how to play the game. But the be Black in America is to ALWAYS be an other. It’s to always wear a hypen. It’s to either tap dance for White supremacy or to oppose it with everything you have. To be Black in America is to be divorced from the freedom most people have of just being in the world. Just knowing you belong. Knowing where and whom you come from.
I’ve fallen in love with many countries in Africa. I’ve read stories and fables and history. I’ve watched youtube clips of dances and ceremonies. I’ve read all I can about Egypt and the Nile. But currently? I’d love to live in Botswana. I’d love to meet and listen to the Khoisan tongues (sometimes called the ‘click’ languages) even though I know Setswana is the main language (other than English) of the country. I’d love to visit Gaborone and see a growing city in Africa. I’d love to go on safari. Not to hunt. But to see the animals in THEIR land. Where they belong.
But mostly I’d love to live in Botswana. I’d love to be reclaimed by the continent I lost. I’d love to belong. I’d love to live somewhere where I could just be.
1- I speak Spanish and English. When I speak Spanish I think in Spanish. When I speak English I think in English. Funny story. Once I went to Puerto Rico with a friend who didn’t speak Spanish. We were hanging out at a bar in Old San Juan and we met some guys. I’m sitting in between her and the guys. They say something in Spanish and I translate in to English for her. She replies in English and I translate to Spanish for them. About 3 drinks in I am repeating what they said in Spanish to her and what she said in English to them. I didn’t even realize I wasn’t switching anymore. LOL A little buzz and my ability to translate was gone. It all made sense to ME. LOL
2- My favorite color is purple. I love every shade of it. Purple makes me happy.
3- I notice the sky every single day. It’s free art from God that is always different. I remind myself to look up and appreciate the beauty surrounding me daily wherever I am.
4- When I was a teenager I had a crying bench in my room. It was an old wood toy box that I covered with pillows and a blanket. I would sit there, put on some sad music (Mariah Carey’s I don’t want to cry was a favorite) and just cry. Sometimes my best friend would come over and we would take turns sitting there and crying.
5- My favorite poem is Iyanla Vanzant’s, “Yesterday I cried” If you have never read it you totally should. I love that piece.
6- I really want to go back to school and be a teacher. I’m going to go back to school and be a teacher.
7- My biggest regret is not finishing college.
8- Self confidence is my Moby Dick. I work so hard at it but I can never seem to hold on to it.
9- I write erotica but I don’t write it down. Jasmine and Steve entertain me on a regular basis. I don’t know why I don’t share them with the world. One day.
10- I miss wearing make up but I don’t put it on. I love the way I look with at least eye make up on but I rarely take the time to apply it.
I am so tempted to rewrite this list in an attempt to be more interesting. LOL
1-You can’t always tell tone.
A one word comment can start an entire war based in miscommunication.
2-Re-posters who don’t fact check.
Black Friday doesn’t come from slave traders selling slaves at half price the day after Thanksgiving.
Social media is chock full of people being disagreeable just to be disagreeable.
4-Although a great tool for organization we are subject to someone else’s “rules” for what is and isn’t allowable conversation. Facebook is a great example of people getting banned for even using the phrase “white people” while others spewing actual hate suffer no repercussions.
5-It takes longer to recognize someone isn’t who they claim to be.
People post what they want when they want. Social media profiles rarely give the entirety of a person. It can take a lot longer to realize someone isn’t the person that they are posting to be.
Your earliest memory
Memory is a funny thing. My earliest memory would probably be in preschool when I got to hold the rabbit for the class picture. It was a coveted thing. We all wanted to hold the rabbit. I don’t remember how or why I was chosen but I remember proudly holding that rabbit when everyone’s picture was taken. I also remember sitting in the corner for talking too much and getting in trouble while in the corner because I talked to the wall. I was angry because I didn’t feel I had been talking and I told the wall all about it. I remember the teacher telling my Dad when he came to get me and I remember both of them laughing before turning stern faces my way.
Your first love and your first kiss
My first love and my first kiss were definitely Gerald Bethel. I remember being in third grade and running around the playground while the boys chased us relentlessly. We ran for our lives with no idea why we were running or why they were chasing but it was fun. I remember the first time he caught me and kissed me. I remember the feeling of his chapped lips on my cheek. I remember feeling excited and confused. I remember taking off running again but checking to make sure he was following. Gerald was my first “boyfriend” I was convinced that I loved him and we were going to get married and live happily ever after. LOL