Years ago a college professor asked, “do other black women speak to you while walking on the street?” I’d never thought about it before; however, since then I’ve become aware that they actually don’t. Generally one can sense when a person is making eye contact. In my experience, regardless of wheather I’m smiling in an attempt to initiate contact or acknowledge someone to say hello, it is very rare that the greeting is recipitated. The attitudes and charecter of many of my people, from my perspective, continue to be the reasoning for me to question where I truly fit in.
My social network ranges from all backgrounds and social class. It is extremely troubling to witness such a lack in unity amongst the black community. I hear folks constantly talking about “support black business”. Yet when I have, there’s little to no customer service as well as no organization when it comes to events and such. How do you promote a book signing and have no pens, just saying. Then there are those who complain about certain stereotypes placed upon us, yet many continue to prove them to be true. For instance never being on time. As a customer trying to support the black business owner who advertises their business hours, but on more than one occasion has opened more than 30 minutes late (personally, I have a problem with that). We have also been classified as lazy and angry.
Now, while I would never classify an entire group for the actions of some, over the years as I reflect back on experiences with my people, they have not been as gratifying as the instances with those who don’t look like me. For example, recently I sought help with computer technology. I reached out to several african americans initially. Relatives, neighbors, friends as well as professionals, all of which assured me they could or would help (obviously offering compensation because I never expect anything for free). Sadly, over a week went by and after calling and not hearing back fron anyone, I could no longer wait. I reached out to a young white man I knew from school. Not only did he agree to help which was a surprise only due to being aware of his busy schedule over the years, but he also gave me a day and time. When that day came, he called 30 minutes prior to confirm and showed up on time. When the job was finished he barely charged a fraction of what the others quoted and being so thankful, I still paid him double because I may need him in the future.
Being the person I am, I appreciate those little attributes that seemingly don’t matter to most. Being “on time” which is actually being early, standing by my word, taking accountability and overall integrity. Sadly, even when it comes to many of my friends and family there’s no unity. No support for ventures or accomplishments unless they can find ways to benifit for themselves. As a child my mother never showed up for a spelling bee, softball game nor acknowledged any of my accomplishments. That taught me that I couldn’t count on or depend on people. As an adult, some who I believed to be “friends” seemingly had the plantation mindset of “house nigga” versus “field nigga”, allowing envy and selfishness to get in the way of the ultimate goal of freedom. When in actuality neither is better off than the other, but with the wrong attitude, that “friend” assumes you might have it better not stopping to realize that our struggle is the same. I don’t get mad or seek revenge on the those who have wronged me. I refuse to believe those who know me can be so malicious. Instead, I feel bad for them attempting to put myself in their shoes in hopes of understanding so I pray for them. I’m proud of my reflection when passing by a mirror (inside and out) knowing who I am and what I stand for. The world already throws so much at us that’s out of our control, I couldn’t bare to intentionally be the reason for yet another hardship in someones life, especially the ones I care about even if/when they may not care as much for me.
There are very rare occasions where my people have been the ones to encourage me or show support. In school growing up, it was my white teachers who took on those roles. Introducing me to new concepts, showing interest along with praise and reward for doing well. As I became an adult it’s been the white folks that have provided me oppertunities and given me a chance. No white folks ever robbed me at gun point, beat and abused me nor treat me as poorly as my own people have. I can’t help but paint the image as my stepfather who sexually abused me as my experience with whites and my mother who constantly beat me and endlessly vilified me in an attempt to break me down as my experience with blacks. It was her nature to communicate in a scurrilous manner in general. I wonder had it come down to it (which it almost did), as a child who would I have been better off with? A mother’s role is to nurture, love and protect no matter what, that is to be expected. On the other hand, a man who is not my biological father, in my mind has no major obligation to me other than obeying the law at the very least. I grew up thinking, If I can’t trust my parents, how could I trust a stranger? My conclusion is that over the years it is my mother who has caused the most severe trauma. Although I was also violated by my stepfather, he didn’t cause nearly as much long term damage as my mother did. I look for the good in everyone. I am blessed with kidness daily which can be a bit surprising considering the times we live in. I realize there are good and bad people in general. Unfortunately the results due to my personal experiences force me to question who can I actually trust; therefore, often finding myelf alone, somewhere in the middle.