Three weeks ago I had a long, in depth conversation with my mother about growing up in Mississippi. We talked about race, religion, opportunities etc.. My parents (particularly my Father) were among the first African Americans to graduate from Picayune Memorial High School. My dad graduated in '72 followed by my mom in '73 (don't kill me for including the year lol). They've shared with me their experiences growing up through segregation and Jim Crow laws. Though their journeys were not easy, you could hear the pride in their voices knowing that their children wouldn't have to face the same challenges. They were right. No one held up derogoraty signs my first day of school or stopped me from being on the dance team. I was able to do everything that I aspired to do. I knew racism existed but in my mind people were nice and loving to me so I turned a deaf ear to occasional comments or "oops it slipped out" rap lyrics. The following are examples:
"You are so pretty, for a black girl"
"The prettiest black girl"
"Don't wear braids, Oh yeah no don't wear braids"
"You're not black"
"You don't talk black"
"You're not like them"
"Act your age, not your color"
Ready for the kicker? Adults were saying those things. Ready for the REAL kicker? Black people were saying some of those things too. Talk about confused. Therapy much? I was like "wait, I know I'm black right? Why am I separated because I speak a certain way (grammar queen) or listen to country (Rascal Flatts) or choose to be friends with everyone?" And just to be clear my playlist is filled with Boosie, Shania, Kirk, Hammond, Weezy, Green Day and of course.. Beyoncé. I'm sharing this so that someone will see the list, ponder and ask "did I say that?"
If you did say some or all of those things, I have a surprise for you..
I've already forgiven you and I ask that you forgive me for not having the knowledge or confidence to speak up when you said it.
This past week has been emotionally draining and surprisingly insightful. I realized that I didn't face the challenges that my parents faced but I have and continue to face ones of my own. There are all types of activist and shakers in the movement. I have found my place. I am not a disruptor, I am a visionary. I envision a better place for Oakley just as my parents did for me. I'm a warrior, a prayer warrior. I pray that my husband will be safe leaving and coming.I pray for this world and EVERYONE it. Yep even the 45th. I am a weaver (not hair lol). I yearn to build bridges and weave us together as a human race. I'm an avid fan of learning from someone else's mistakes and it hurts to imagine this part in history repeating itself. Many have marched and said names and yet we still add names. I will educate, I will vote, eventually fund someone's campaign and I won't wait on the world to change.. I'll help change it.
Here are some resources that have helped me understand race and links to help change the world however you may choose... But just make sure that you choose for the better.
With Love in my heart,