THE TRUTH HURTS: Race Relations as experienced by an old Mixed Chick

For the next few moments, I am going to nominate myself spokeswoman for race relations in this country. You don’t have to agree, but seeing as I am 47% African and 53% European (thanks to the Europeans who penetrated my mother’s side, welcomed or not), I may be the best example you’re going to get.

First of all, I am not a militant anything. I am, however, passionate about the fair treatment of ALL people. I call it as I see it. I have the ability to walk within both races, black and white, and witness the good and the not-so-good. For those of you who refuse to believe there are two separate and defined races in this country, I’m here to tell you that denial makes you unattractive.

Let’s get one thing out of the way fast, quick and in a hurry. I identify myself as a black female. Why? I was born in 1965, in Chicago, to loving parents, a black mother and a white father. In that day, a child was considered the race of the mother. Also, back in the day, a drop of black made you black. My mother was the predominant caretaker at home while dad worked as an Airline Captain. My mother was my rock. My father, simply put, was and is my hero. As a young lady, I wanted to be just like my mother as I began to understand her struggles, her pain and her triumphs. She was a dark-skinned woman, no confusion about her blackness. I felt a comfort with her that somehow she was stronger than most, and she was. I married a man who happened to be white, which is incidentally what my mother always told me about my dad. I married a man who most reminded me of the values and strength exhibited by my father, who taught me how a man should treat his wife. So, let’s move on..

White people are still winning. Yes, it’s true. Yes, I said it. My white friends, rich or poor, Ivy League or trade school educated, city or rural folk have it better than most. When I say better, I’m not talking about bank accounts or net worth. I’m talking about a day in the life. I have never once had a conversation with my white friends about fear of their young boys being beaten or murdered by the police. Not once have we ever discussed discrimination in the workplace based on color. Their white children are never concerned about what they can grow up to be, because they won’t have roadblocks placed in their paths (except maybe Affirmative Action). Before you start freaking out, my fair friends, think of the last time you were in a group of fellow pale citizens discussing academic opportunities for white kids and how you can help to advance their education. You haven’t, and you don’t. You don’t have an NAACP or a UNCF because you don’t need them. White people I know rely on the police for assistance and protection. They take comfort in knowing that 911 will respond. White people I know haven’t the slightest clue what it’s like to be profiled because of skin color.

There is an unspoken freedom granted to white people which blacks and other minorities, let’s face it, may never know.

I have lots of black friends. Unlike some of you, I’m telling the truth. Black people have white friends… to a degree. You will never be on the inside. Hell, I’m not even all the way accepted in the inner workings of the black community. My husband is just a confused bystander. There is much distrust in the black community of other races. Some is warranted, some isn’t. Here’s some of what makes me shake my head:

• Tanning

• Butt implants

• Hair Extensions

• Lip injections

• Elvis (ask Chuck Berry)

Listen, I understand that we all interact in diverse groups to illustrate that we can communicate with many kinds of people, but at the end of the day, we are most comfortable in the companionship of our own race of people. That’s natural. However, within that security and contentment cannot come unresponsiveness to the plight of the HUMAN RACE.

Here’s where the rubber hits the road, folks.

White people, imagine for a moment, if you will, that your dog Fluffy was walking down the middle of the street and a policeman rolled up on it and shot it. Would it be justified if your dog had stolen a bone from the butcher and growled at the butcher as it left the building?

By all means No, I am not equating a young man’s life to a dog, it’s just that using a canine in this scenario is more believable than a white kid.

Let’s say it happens time and time again. You complain about the police brutality but nothing ever changes. Sometimes, your Golden Retriever is minding its own business, sometimes its behavior is less than stellar. But your dog has no teeth and really can’t seriously hurt anyone. Still, it’s dead. You’d fight for change. I know you would. Who would stand for such behavior? When is it okay for police to round-up innocent Labradors and take them to the pound without cause? Since when did it become routine for police to murder Schnauzers for no reason. See where I’m going here?

As someone who has a teensy more European blood than African blood, it still boils when I see mistreatment of ANYONE.

Get angry. Don’t stand for it. Speak up. Inaction is a sign of apathy and indifference.

The only hope that our children and grandchildren will see no color, is if we all see RED.

In The Event of an Emergency…a little story about depression

My beautiful son was born on a September afternoon in 2005. My OBGYN said it was the most uneventful delivery he had ever witnessed. He actually sat on the side of my bed and we watched as #3 just kind of magically glided out into the world. Three times IS a charm and I was proud to have mastered the painless birth. I had managed to control the uncontrollable. Score.

My nickname, besides Sistah, is Controlee. I like to be in charge. I find comfort in leadership, not because I like to boss people around, but because I am calmest with my decision-making skills. I seek teamwork and ideas from others, as long as I have the final ruling. I believe I have a fear of trusting responsibility to others and that I’m better off when I manage all situations. Let me tell you, it’s exhausting and not always productive. Wow, not really a newsflash.

My story begins with this revelation, much to my shock and disbelief: I can’t control autism. I could manage how my son came into this world but not remedy his developmental delays. My child has a challenge which I cannot fully solve? This is way out of my element. The fear crept in and quickly turned to terror. I turned that terror into action and became the best damned autism advocate this side of Chicago. Still, when I lay in bed at night, I felt like what I was doing was never enough even though #3 was thriving.

You see, I have always been the person others rely on to make all things better. I have a meticulous record as “The Fixer”. I inherited this gift (or curse) from my mother. This autism thing… I can fix this too. Mom, the “Super Fixer” was by my side along with my husband and together, we would work tirelessly for my son. We would make everything okay. I declared myself Super Autism Mom, but still so much work to do.

Then, my Mom gets sick. Now, I must achieve superior knowledge about liver disease so that I can “fix” her. I must be able to stay one step ahead of her doctors so I may have a complete understanding of the problem at hand. After all, it’s just a problem and that’s my specialty. Sure, I’m 850 miles away, but I can handle it. I can live in the hospital room with Mommy from M-F, then fly home and see my children and husband for the weekend. Yes, it’s the worst winter on record and I find myself sleeping in several different airports, unable to get home, but I’m okay. I’m Super…

She’s getting worse. Dad is so frightened that he is rendered helplessly unable to make a decision. He gets sick. Now, I’m between the hospital, dad’s house and airport. Apple pie has become my only solace. I don’t even bother to use a plate. Just a fork. If there has ever been a poster for depression, it would be a woman sitting in a hospital room, next to her dying mother, in the dark, eating a whole pie.

She dies. I couldn’t save her. I couldn’t save her.

I can’t cure my son. I can’t cure my son.

I can’t. I can’t.

I didn’t want to get out of bed. When I finally did, I over-compensated to make up for what I considered my failures as a daughter and mother. So, I over extended myself even more than what was normal for me. I had to save someone, find a cure, rescue a shelter dog.

Next step, anger set in. I am running into more obstacles that I cannot “fix”. My son, who is hypersensitive, cries when I cry, yells when I yell. My daughters and husband are getting caught up in this hurricane of crap. This is no good. I am beginning to spiral out of control and feel like I’m drowning in uncontrollable failure.

I need help.

I got help.

Therapy has been the saving grace for me. I’m coming back better than ever. I was never suicidal. Homicidal, yes. Definitely homicidal. You could even say Medieval Shit homicidal. One of the first assignments from my therapist was to make a Pros & Cons list of all the people I wanted to see dead and how it would really affect my life. It took several months before the Pro side was shorter than the Con. My therapist talked me out of that tree and every other twisted shrub in this crazy forest that grows in my mind. We have had a few good laughs in session, even though her chuckles are usually combined with lots of writing in her notebook and eyes darting left to right. I don’t know what that’s all about, but I think I’m Chapter 6 in her book.

I also take a little medication to keep my moods from swinging like Chris Brown on a date. It’s not a cure-all, but probably the best assist to keep me out of lock up. I am learning that relinquishing control, especially to others that are perfectly qualified to take over, isn’t such a bad thing. I don’t have to know everything, fix everything. I have to let go and let the Universe catch things. I make my hands in the shape of a little bowl and recite this often.

I’m learning that I need to put on my oxygen mask and help myself first so that I can be a better me, wife, mother, daughter and friend. Oddly enough, no one wants an oxygen deprived maniac attempting to lead during an emergency situation.

Hopefully, this little story has motivated you to take better care of yourself. Hopefully, this story has given you a better understanding that you or someone in your life may be struggling. Hopefully, this story gives you peace of mind that there is no shame in asking for help, even when you are everyone else’s sunshine.

Put on your oxygen mask first, breathe and let the Universe do Her thang.
Be well.