Growing Up White

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Yes I’m black. To some though, I wasn’t. To some, I wasn’t good enough. No real explanation. Just blanket statements.

Some people spend part of their lives shaping themselves to commit to an already planned out existence. But each step was like a needle to the arm: you didn’t die, but you felt it and you remember what happens the next time you encounter it.

Here’s just one of many stories that left a bad taste in my mouth. The culprits may not have realized, but I’m sure I’m not the only one.Print

Growing up black in a white neighborhood in itself is interesting, but it made traveling outside of it confusing. I already knew that people were called colors that they were in fact not, but outside of the suburbs there were also levels to this said color.

While playing outside on the streets of Ilion Avenue, my siblings and I were always told we talked white. I would see my sister’s eyes bulge like their death was gaining pressure. She hated it more than I did.

I never understood why telling us we talked liked a color and that talking that way should be shameful. But hey, most of them barely left the burrow and always asked to play with my Skip-it so who’s ashamed now?

As we got older Printand more color escaped the depths of a government controlled cycle where only a few were okay with their outcome, the criticizing began to change a little. The preteens have now lived life and could tell me a few things. And now were telling me I wasn’t black enough.

First, I sounded white (ew, I guess is what was supposed to say). Now, for some reason, I wasn’t black enough. Almost like a secret timeline they kept track of for final judgement. Sad, I had no clue I was being tested.

Again, wasn’t sure how I was really supposed to take that. I know how I did take it and have a journal for a year in high school to prove it. But here I was, black, sounding white, not being black enough.

Skip ahead to adulthood. After years and years of being told  I sounded like the wrong color, and my color was not enough to be a part of the color group, I was now beiPrintng told the color I was supposed to be and sound like was no longer the latest tea.

That tasted like shit.

A long monologue about love, and many of us got the cliff notes: “You’re too loud, angry, and independent.”

I don’t care who you love, just don’t beat down someone else to justify it.

How I Met My Mother

It wasn’t that long ago, I met my mother. So at that point she was very new to me. Everything I had wondered finally became apparent as she stood before me.ma2

To be clear, my mother has been in my life, all my life. But the mother I knew was the disciplinarian, the one who always had to be right. The one who always was able to ground. I was the standard kid, always wondering mommy could never understand me among the barrage of children she always had around. And I could never understand why it was so hard to get me everything I wanted, anytime I wanted…and the bones I kept breaking cost a lot.

familyI went into my teens thinking the same way. I couldn’t wait to be an adult and swore my mother didn’t appreciate the point in her life she was at. She had the ability to do what she wanted! And yet she made it a point to always interfere with my life. This time only trying to tell me what to do. What did she know? Her life was easy. She was an adult that could make decisions for herself.

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This feeling followed me, as it does many teens.

Until I made it through my 20’s. It was at the end I met my mother.

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I have no kids and my 20’s were anything but easy. It made me wonder how someone could do it with kids hovered around them?

 I enjoy being around people but love the fact that if I wanted space, I could easily close the door and tell everyone to leave me alone…I remember as a kid having to sleep on the floor next to my mother because the twins had already got comfortable on the couch she was sleeping on. And forget about sleeping in on Saturday. Too many kids needed her.

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College was successful, but not without its challenges. I struggled but managed to graduate in a timely manner…My mother always talked about school and how she couldn’t wait to go back and finish. And with a bunch of kids, you bet she tried. But I also remember my mother having to halt her future a few times to put her kids in front of what she wanted. Because what she desired the most was for her kids to be successful. At 40 and after multiple times putting her family before herself, she did it.

Success all around!

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Flashback to 18. I was finally an adult and could do whatever I wanted. No longer would my mother hold the fact that I was a child over my head. I could do what I want. And I showed her that I could.

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Bad move on my part. And when it was time for me to realize it and ask for help (in the form of tears), she embraced me and welcomed me back home without blinking. I was no longer a child, but I was still HER CHILD. No complaints, no ‘you should have’, just love and encouragement. It was that kind of support that got me through college. She also did this while raising my youngest sister.

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But I still didn’t realize it then.

During their 20’s, most people begin to really realize what it means to be an adult. Sick is no longer an excuse and the world will move forward without you. Life does not turn out the way you expect but instead of pouting, you must accept it and move on…I could go on forever, but we’re all adults.

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Being an adult reintroduced me to a mother I really never knew. A mother who would sacrifice, her time, space, sanity, money, love, life, and her worth to make sure her children had every advantage they could to get as far as they can. She did it so gracefully, I never even noticed. Even as adults, she is ready with open arms to help each and every one of the children on her long list…whenever we are in need and there are 5 of us, not including those she helped support throughout the years.

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She does this while working. She does this with lack of sleep. She does it sick. She does it while sad. She does this while dealing with her personal problems. She does this without making her children think they are a burden.

And she does this because she wants nothing but the best and brightest future for us. She continues to do it everyday.

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There are a few things I could argue, but relative to the mother she was, is, and will be, I’d just sound like an ungrateful little bitch.

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I may never know what it feels like to completely put what I thought was my future on hold to secure someone else’s, but I do know when someone does it right.

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I see a lot of great mothers out there, but always know in my eyes, I have one of the highest standards in my head. I have every right. As crazy as my siblings and I are, and though some of us once began to steer towards the path of stupidity, there is nothing you can say that would shed darkness on my mother’s children. We wouldn’t be who we are without her.

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So for those  who think it’s OK to ignore your children, make them feel terrible when they make a mistake, ignore signs of problems, act like doing a little extra is too much for you (children know), choosing other relationships over ones with your children, or feel that just because you did the minimum to raise your children you’re the greatest mom around, I have another word in my head…come look for it.

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Happy Anniversary

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Okay. This may be long but I think it’s worth it. I want to say the most sincerest and genuine Happy Anniversary to the love of my life. Someone who was brushed off as a fling to some people. Someone who has showed me a love I’ve never felt before. Someone who paints a picture of what type of man a woman should look for.

To think, I almost let you get away.

I’d be lying if I said that this time we shared has been flawless, but it’s as close as I ever thought it would be. Every time I think of our relationship, I’m always taken back to our times sharing halal food while sitting on the floor of Penn Station. That was all we could afford and that was all the time we had. But it didn’t matter. We made a promise that it would be us against the world.

I never understood the meaning of a friendzone as I always believed the best relationship involves the best of friends. Can you imagine if we had nothing to say, nothing to share, or no reason to compromise to make sure the other person enjoyed themselves too? I can’t picture myself laughing as hard or maintaining such interest with someone else. I swear it’s like the Ying-yang symbol: perfect fit of opposites with just enough in common.

My mother raised me to never feel like I have to rely on any man to survive. It has made me stubborn in many positive ways. But I never thought that while I can keep that trait, I don’t have to feel that way. You have showed that your priority is to make me happy and keep me safe. Not many people can say that.

I am always sad to point this out, but in today’s time I guess it needs to be honored. Thank you for always treating me with respect. Thank you for making me your one and only. Thank you for never raising your hand. Thank you for respecting yourself and realizing your worth. Without this, this thing that we have would never exist.

If someone asked me 10 years ago if I ever thought I’d find someone like you, in some random place, having something random as going to the same high school in common…so random that you happened to be one of the mechanics to fix my very first car (R.I.P. POJ), to meet 6 years later, to fall in love so hard…let’s just say I would find it hard to believe.

Long story short, you are my favorite person to be around, favorite face to wake up to, favorite friend to confide in…you’re just my favorite all around. I still can’t believe it has already been 7 years. It seems like yesterday I caught you looking back letting me know you were interested. We’ve beat out many marriages and by the looks of the posts on social media, this thing we have should be recognized.

And always remember…EXTREME. EMOTIONAL. DISTRESS.