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.
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
Five problems with social media
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
I was wrong.
I read this post today. I immediately commented and shared it on Facebook. I shared it on my page. I shared it in groups. I liked and commented on mutual friends’ posts when they shared it.
Source: Sandra Bullock, black women have been fearing for our sons for centuries!
As this spread to integrated spaces the tears for Sandra Bullock made me angry. How could you read this and come away feeling sorry for Sandra? How sway?
“Why is this writer picking on Sandra?”
“Sandra cares. She’s an ally. She doesn’t deserve this?”
Why are we minimizing Sandra’s experience as the mother of a Black child?”
Are ya’ll kidding me?
You have GOT to be kidding me. How can you READ this and worry about Sandra? No one is minimizing Sandra’s love of her Black child. No one is minimizing Sandra at all. What IS happening here is the centering of Blackness. What IS happening here is truth telling. Adopting a Black child does not make you Black. It doesn’t. Waking up to the realities of injustice because you personally love a little person who is impacted by those realities is not the same as growing up in the skin I’m in.
Furthermore if Sandra is the ally you think she is, she already knows this.
Sometimes, when something makes you uncomfortable you don’t have to speak in your discomfort. Sometimes you can sit in that discomfort and examine it. Sometimes you might even grow from it.
She woke up nervous.
“How will I know my new friends’ names? How will I know the rules? Will my teacher be nice? What if I don’t like their lunch?”
As soon as her eyes opened she was spitting questions at me. It was the first day of Pre-K. I kissed her furrowed brow and reassured her that everyone else would be new too. I told her that the teachers would play games so everyone could learn each other’s names. I told her that it would all be okay. It was an adventure.
She was unconvinced.
I helped her get her uniform on. She was quieter than usual.
“Will you stay with me today Mommy?”
“Mommies can’t stay at school baby girl. But I will drop you off today and I will pick you up later. You are a champion babygirl. You will be fine.”
Pre-K started on a Wednesday. I took the day off from work and we got there super early. My little likes to explore quietly in new situations. I got there early enough that she was the first kid in her classroom. The teacher was still putting things in to their places and making last minute adjustments to her bulletin boards.
“Please ignore us. I just wanted to give her a chance to explore before everyone came.”
The teacher smiled. She understood. She didn’t crowd my lil bit. She let her do her thing. We walked around looking at all of the different centers. We noticed the numbers in each center. “Four kids can play here Mommy. How will she pick which four?”
The teacher explained how free choice time would work. Nia seemed satisfied.
Kids started arriving with their parents. Nia and I were reading a book in the quiet area. She left me to explore her new classmates. She introduced herself to some kids and just jumped in playing with some others. The teacher called all of the kids to the rug. I stepped outside to answer her Dad’s call wondering how it was going. I stepped back in and my throat got tight. Looking at my little miracle sitting on the rug with the other kids in her uniform was emotional for me. She was listening so intently to the story. She was engaged. It was going to be okay. It was all going to be fine.
The teacher announced that it was time for adults to leave. I watched Nia’s face crack. It was easy to be brave knowing I was a few steps away but now I was leaving. She started sobbing. I went to her. I reminded her that, “Mommies always come back.” I whispered affirmations in her ear. “You are a champion. You are excellence. You can do anything. You are not afraid. Mommies ALWAYS come back.” She sobbed. “I just want you to stay. Can you please stay? Can you just hold me? Can you please stay Mommy? Please? Please? Please?” I knew that the longer I stayed the more upset she would become.
I made eye contact with the teacher who walked over to take her from me. I peeled her arms and legs off of me and with one last, “Mommies always come back. I’ll be back Nia,” I walked out of the classroom, out of the school and cried. Yes. I cried. Hard. I know I have to encourage her to fly. I know that there will be times when I need to give her a little push to use those wings. I do it. It’s part of the job. But I am certain that it will NEVER be easy to walk away when she is literally begging me to stay. When I know that going back will comfort her even as it stifles her growth. Because that last part is the key. She has to grow. And I have to step away sometimes for that to happen.
At a new park she stays by my side, cautious. She will not interact with the kids she doesn’t know. She stays close to what is familiar. But if I leave, even if I only absent myself outside of the gate to a bench she will tentatively engage the other kids. She will explore the new slides and climbing structures. She will move forward. My presence keeps her frozen in place, close to the familiar. My distance helps her hurl herself into new situations. And she thrives in those new situations.
The first day of Pre-K was a half day. My Mom came with me to pick her up. As we walked in to the classroom she came running to us. She hugged us tight and introduced my Mom to her teacher. As we left the school she was quiet. She firmly held my Mom’s hand on one side and mine on the other. “How was school Lil Bit?” “It was good. I made friends. I like my teacher. But Mommy.” “Yes love.” “I don’t need to go back there. Okay? I’ll go to work with you tomorrow.”
I reminded her that school was HER job. She needed to come back the next day and keep learning everything that she could. She was quiet.
The next morning Nia was taking the school bus to school. I talked to her bus driver for 20 minutes the night before. I had questions. Was there a monitor on the bus? Did I need to send her car seat? How many kids are on the bus? Have you ever lost a kid? Do you know that I will hunt you down and skin you alive if you let someone bully my baby?
Okay so I didn’t say that last one but I promise you I was thinking it. Daddy talked up the bus with Nia getting her excited about her new adventure. The morning came and it was rainy. In my spirit that felt appropriate. What kind of Mom puts her 3 year old on the bus? What am I doing? Why don’t I change my hours at work so I can take her? What if something happens and I’m not there? I was the quiet one on Thursday morning. I was afraid to speak around the lump in my throat.
The bus came and she was so excited. We have been watching school buses forever and now she was FINALLY on one. She chattered excitedly as I boarded the bus behind her and buckled her in. She kissed me and made jokes with the bus driver as I snapped a quick picture. She waved and blew kisses as the bus pulled away. I stood, frozen, watching it leave, praying silently. Please protect her always Lord. Please keep her safe Father God. Please. Please. Please.
We survived. Both of us. We grew. Both of us.
I might have called the bus driver on his cell phone to make sure she got there safe. Don’t judge me.
This Mommy shit be hard ya’ll.