As I said here, I'm going to share things I've written on Facebook because, why do I just want words I've said about thoughts I've had just sitting in some server or database somewhere? Might as well share them--that's what they're for ;)
Y'all, did you know that while Black people seem incapable of escaping detection while doing ordinary things like living life, we are also at the same time, invisible to white people?
What else could explain a white woman I have literally never seen in my entire 34 years of life, asking me, upon entering a grocery store I shop at, if I am "off"?
I thought she was talking about the shirt I have on, and I said something relatively nonsensical in reply (that automatic Southern defer-to-politeness-but-really-always-be-composed shit I am working to get rid of) and realized the context after I walked away and said to myself, sucking my teeth and muffled by my mask, "this bitch thought I worked here." (Laughing emoji added for emphasis only so you'll recognize, if you aren't familiar, that "this bitch" is a manner of speech, and in this case, does not denote anger. It's contextual.)
My brain moved to be upset with me for not being able to reply any other way, for not recognizing White Aloofness quicker, for not making her feel like a dummy for confusing me for one of her Black employees, for responding genteelly to the same White Aloofness that has always confused me for an employee. I have never worked in retail. I have never been confused for someone else by a non-white person.
But we healing (and I'm sharing because, I know I'm not the only one healing), and so I told my brain that we good. The kind response, the move to flatten, to keep everything smooth is a learned response from a lifetime and historical, ancestral basis of microagressions and much, much worse. My brain's job is to keep me safe at all times. My brain is aware that it is inside a Black female body. My brain did what it is trained to do. So to that, thank you, brain.
But that bitch know I ain't look like nobody she knew *insert side-eye emoji*
It is a huge step for me to be able to pivot the way I speak to myself. My brain and I have come a long way. Learning to be gentle with yourself means unlearning a lifetime of the bullshit other people put inside your brain about yourself, about your worth. Having children has saved my life, because I would never want my kids to feel a fraction of the embarrassment and ridicule I did for just being myself. I speak to them kindly. I am gentle with them. And when I have moments when I am not operating where I want to be with them, I explain it to them, and I apologize. I hug them and kiss them. I stare in their eyes and tell them how much they mean to me, how much they are loved, how much I love them just the way they are. This comes easy to me.
Having to apply the same kindness to myself has been much, much harder. As John Mayer says, "I am, in repair."
2016 in a lyric: "U better live now, before the grim reaper come knockin' on your door." -Prince Rogers Nelson
Well, this aged well.