To my new friend

Racism seems to be a trending topic among some of my newly

found friends.  One of these new friends is a black author

from Brooklyn.  Her writing is very compelling and thought

provoking for me.  I spent the first half of my life as a

Military brat travelling the globe, living in other countries,

learning new cultures.  This is something I crave.  Growing

up, race was never an issue.  No one ever said to me “Hey,

that’s a black girl you’re playing with”. It never would have

phased me either.. my friends and I found common ground

among our likes and dislikes, not of color, but of interests. 

When I was eight or nine I wanted a black barbie so my

friend and I could play and she could have a chance to be the

princess.  I think this was my first encounter with racism.  I

recall, at a party my parents were hosting, playing with my

friend and over hearing one grown up tell my mother ” You

let her have a black barbie??” with such disgust in her voice. 

My Mother, being the lady she is smiled gently and

responded ” As soon as they hit the shelves.”  This left the

other woman with a wide-eyed, shocked expression.  I didn’t

understand at the time, and was confused as to why this

woman was so aghast at my beloved doll, my princess

Kenyata. 

 

Moving forward in my life to my stay in New Orleans,

Louisiana.  You see since I was 12 I’ve lived in the Southern

United States.  At 18 I took a job waiting tables at a hotel

downtown and met a great group of people who worked

along side me.  During one of the many rainy seasons down

here, I got off work and walked out the front door to head to

my car and ran into Mikey.  Mikey is black and washed

dishes at the time.  He had gotten off shift about 2 hours

before I did and had been waiting for his ride that hadn’t

shown up.  So I did what anyone would do and offered him a

way home.  We trudged through the pouring rain to the

employee section of the parking lot and as I was unlocking

my doors, Mikey jumped into the back of the pick-up truck .

“What are you doing Mikey??” I asked… his reply shocked

me to my core when he answered ” My Daddy always told me

never to get into a car with a white woman because they will

kill you for that.”  “That’s absurb Mikey, it’s pouring rain, get

in the truck” … ” Oh, no maam.  I appreciate the offer for a

ride home, but if I can’t ride here then I’ll just have to walk” 

So I drove Mikey home that day, in the back of my pick-up

truck and cried.  That night i could not sleep, who could?? I

kept asking myself how could racism be this prevelant in this

day and age in this huge city??? How could, in today’s world,

a man be mortally afraid to get a ride home??  My ten years

in New Orleans was a wake up call for me.  I did have other

experiences where racism demonstrated how alive and well

it is indeed, but none shook me up as much as my ride home

with Mikey.

 

I think for me, I just don’t get it?? My mind cannot grasp the

hatred others feel towards people because of color or

religion.  What makes us all so different??? I think what

bothers me most is seeing the hurt and embarassment that is

caused by someones racial slurs.  My heart breaks when my

new friend writes out of anger because public racial slurs are

being softened and new “racial phrases” are being created to

hide the “dirty truth”.  I too am angry that the line between

color cannot be crossed and overcome, that it is an invading

part of our lives that continues to separate and keep apart

relationships, personal or political. 

 

I too am angry that this dirty secret has been kept under hats

for far too long.  I’ve never been quiet when I hear an

injustice being served and it is being spooned out by the ton

right now and I will not sit back quietly and eat it. 

 

To my new friend, you are a beautiful woman with a great

mind.  I hope we can make a stand together against this ever

evolving hatred.

Reflections of Beauty

I stand in front of a square of mirror each morning carefully

applying the paint of an urban female warrior.  This is what

I do, this is what I am trained for.  Each brush is skillfully

used to embellish every facial feature to perfection.  Swirling

colors to blend so you cannot tell where one stops and one

begins.  My face a daily canvas to be remade to reflect sexy,

charming, in control.

 

Golden strands of hair fall around my face in soft flowing

waves. All in place designed to be stared at; to be touched.

 

Matching clothing flattering just the right curves of the

body.. coordinated handbag and shoes with not a speck of

dirt on them. Which sunglasses to wear, to tie a pretty bow

on the package?

 

A quick look in the mirror to ensure all is right. Pretty girl

staring back with empty eyes.  I look away for fear of

confronting the truth. 

 

Inside a slow scream starts to form.. pushing it’s way up,

wanting to be set free. Push it back down, it cannot escape,

there is no time for dwelling on what should be.

 

Echos haunt my mind, “you’re such a pretty girl” ; “how can

you be sad, you’re so pretty”; “you have it made, your so

pretty”; “we like being around you, YOU’RE SO…

FUCKING…. PRETTY”

 

SHUT UP!! I cannot talk to you now, I have beauty to throw

around, tell your lines to somebody else. They mean nothing

to me.

 

Look into my lifeless eyes and tell me how pretty I am once

you really see me.  Tell me how pretty I am now that you

know the truth, now that you see reflections of beauty in me.