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Archive for the month “December, 2014”

A View From Inside-Part III

When I think about childhood and youth, I think of silliness, laughter, fun, and appreciation for the simple. There is a time allotted for pretending and games. Through our experience in childhood we are preparing for our adult lives. Think about yours; the good, the happy, the uncomfortable and even some of the bad, that’s life right.

My children were raised and grew up in a way that was vastly different from my experience. Simply rearing and girl versus rearing a boy, there are many, many things that can be touched upon. However, there is a task at hand that must be addressed and it is “A View From Inside”.

My childhood was sheltered and safe. We lived on a quiet street in Kansas City, Kansas and my paternal grandmother, aunt, and uncle were two doors down across that same street. We had ten pairs of familial eyes upon us most everyday. We walked to school, in Kansas and later in California. There were boundaries set, my mother was a stay at home mom. She knew where we were at all times and we knew it was our job to make sure she did not have to do more than call out our names in order to find us.

We moved to California when I was 7 years old; sometime between my earliest recollections and that move a little “colored” girl was kidnapped, and it made the evening news. I remember the event because kidnapping did not happen a lot or you did not hear about it like you do now, I remember she was from Missouri(Kansas City has a Kansas and Missouri side) and a white man was the one who did it. I remember this because she had a little brother who witnessed the event, and he recounted the information to his parents and the police. This story did not have a happy ending, and I remember that I was introduced to a fear that I never had known before.

I grew up in the 1960’s race was NOT discussed in my home with us until we were much older. This was the case in spite of the fact that my father’s brother was the president of the ;local NAACP and was friends with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I did not know this or how important and potentially dangerous that was until after the assassinations began. Remember race was not discussed with us children until we were older. We had our place and it was not in adult conversations. I knew the difference of course, but I didn’t know any white people at that time, unless you counted my grandmother. She by-the-way was not white but simply had the complexion of.

In spite of what is reported on the news, or what is characterized on television, in the movies, etc. black people hold their children near and dear to their hearts. Black parents are over-protective and over zealous at times, but that comes from a history that made them adapt for survival. YES I SAID PARENTS!

I think back of the rules of the day with my parents; being visible or within earshot, the corporal punishment( I can say/admit most if not all I was at fault), the lectures( I better discipline you now than the white man later). I am not unique, but that was some heavy shit to put on a child. However, this part is about childhood and childhood shapes us into who we are as adults.

My parents were not hateful, but they were protective of us. Whatever one may think of corporal punishment, lack of racial discussion( barring the one about punishment later in life coming from the ever present yet elusive “white man”) ; my parents managed to stay married happily till the day my father died, raise four children( none of who were ever incarcerated nor teen parents), buy a home, and live to see their grandchildren. A slice of Americana, glamorized, marketed, denied to many people of color and TOLD it is THEIR fault as to why they do not have it.

We hold our babies near and dear; our hearts ache because they do NOT get the opportunity to just be children, because we live with the very real threat that they may not survive childhood. That is EVERY parents nightmare, to outlive their child. When a 12 year old with a toy is shot dead because of a toy in 2014, when a 14 year old is tortured and killed for a “wolf whistle” and a smart comment 59 years ago and all the other stories you heard about in between. The fear is warranted, the threat is real. I tell myself my children grew up in a world different than mine, but is it really?

My children grew up in Palos Verdes, California and Alpharetta, Georgia; white suburban heaven and havens, aesthetically pleasing, economically privileged, but the underlying feeling from most of our neighbors was “What are YOU doing here, oh that’s right affirmative action”. Damn we couldn’t even feel safe with all of that.

We shook our heads in disbelief when we saw children barely more than toddlers riding bikes in the middle of the street with no sign of a parent/their parent anywhere in sight. As time went on realization of ,”What do they really have to worry about” came to us. Their children are afforded the ability to make mistakes that kill off our babies daily. Imagine that, a child who actual has an opportunity to be a child; not a being who has that magical time of exploration and beauty tainted and poisoned with real fear, eminent threats, and horror.

Black people ARE angry; we DO love our children and we hold them in the highest esteem. A prank, youthful exuberance, or a traffic violation should NOT hold a death sentence that can be carried out by anyone carrying a gun, night stick, or possessing the acceptable skin tone.

A View From Inside-Part II

My beautiful friends. I say that from a literal standpoint. I am a Libra, I revel in that. Libras have an affinity for beauty, the finer things. However, I have been blessed with people in my life who have the inner beauty as well as the outer. I look at them and enjoy their company. They remind me that there is still quite a bit of good out there in the world.. When the ugliness come to the forefront. I know I have secret weapons in my life.

I met the real life version of “Alice In Wonderland” when I was 22 years old. I had been raised in a predominately black suburban environment, so my contact with white people my age directly did not really happen until college.

Let’s call my friend, Dena. There are others I mention(Kim B., Cyndi H., Rachel F.) who I did NOT care for and they will get No love or respect, their names and ugliness will be out there.  If Disney needed a model for Alice, Dena was it. Dena came to work with me at my second real job for a large retail drug chain in their administrative offices. It was strange she and I took a liking to one another. As time went on and we discovered our backgrounds it would become more logical as well as illogical that we did become “friends”. I trained Dena, we had lunch together, we exchanged gifts. Odd as it seems we did not go out much or have each other’s phone number. However, that was 33 years ago, memory may not be exact.

Dena was younger than I was and single. She was a California girl who as the result of divorced found herself in Salt Lake City, Utah. We laughed over lunch how her primitive classmates asked, “If she had ever seen a real black person before and what were they like?” We never found irony in our being friends, at least we never discussed it. Dena was a Mormon too.

One day Dena quit the job, we did a farewell lunch and cake for her ( I was in charge of the festivities because everyone KNEW we were close) and I never saw or heard from her again. I didn’t feel hurt or cheated. I was not surprised she divorced herself from her experience with the job, and me for that matter. However, I remember her. She was in my opinion “kinda pretty”. She had gorgeous long blonde hair, ANYONE would envy. She was a nice, fun, kind person. I wish we had remained or actually became real friends, I think we could have learned a lot from one another.

In spite of my upbringing, environment, and late interaction with white people on a personal level, Dena was not my first “BLONDE friend”. She was also not my last nor was she my only. I wonder what they thought beyond conversations we had about subject matter, which did in fact transcend race. I do NOT believe they befriend me because of or even in spite of race. My being black, like their being white, came as a interesting as-a-matter-of-fact snippet. I LOVE that about those “friendships” too. I have always connected with PEOPLE based on a vibe, the energy their souls give off. I know that I am not unusual in that. Let me generalize here;  black people have to go by what their inner eye tells them, white people by and large are performers/chameleons(Kim B., Cyndi H., Rachel F.) . Therefore I also recognize many of these connections were simply associations rather than friendships. They were relationships though and you have to start somewhere.

A View From Inside-Part I

I awake and my mind is generally a blank canvass. It has only thoughts of the rituals of the morning. I yawn. I stretch. I make myself aware of any pains or aches I am suffering from. If there are none that goes unnoticed. There are a few plans like this is the day I have to drop a piece of dry cleaning off, or my hair appointment is at 2:00, but overall I have no master plan to take over, ruin the life of, or hate. I JUST WANT TO LIVE.

I don’t ask for happy, I desire content; I want my family safe and happy, for with them rests my true happiness. I pray for that daily. This all goes on in about 2 seconds after I  rise in the morning. Often times there is even more, but the gist of this is, it doesn’t take long and I still have 23 hours 59 minutes and 58 seconds left in any given day. What happens during the rest of that time?

I cannot speak for all black people, but I think ALL people want some of/many of the same things in life. Just because I am black does not mean I have a inside track to the workings of ALL or most of my fellow black people’s agenda. What I have is shared experiences, as white people have with one another. What is ironic, seemingly to some if not many white people, is that we also share those same experience with the white population as well. What we don’t always share in vastly disproportionate levels, is the injustices we STILL suffer and that is race based.

I have to say to myself when something bad happens is it because of the circumstances or is it because I am black. White people who say, black people are always bringing up race want you to believe that THEY do not think there is a race problem to address. To ME that is code for,”It doesn’t concern me and mine so I don’t really care about it or care to talk about it..” Take note ignoring “it” won’t make it go away AND just because YOU don’t use the “N” word does not mean you are not prejudiced.

Prior to the Ronald Reagan Era being prejudiced was not thought of in high regards. He/his policies/his administration told white people on the fringes of being down right racist, it is okay NOT to like other races typically blacks, and that being overt in those feelings was acceptable. The standard,”Some of my best friends are black” changed to, ” None of my friends are black and I  am glad about that”.

I hated Ronald Reagan. I grew up in Southern California, I watched this horrible”c” movie actor become governor of a great state and try to change it’s dynamic. Republicans don’t do well in Cali..too much ocean and free spirit out there to be clouded with the narrow-minded thought patterns. You look at the Pacific and think.. “Yeah it’s all good”. When he became President he followed a time of massive change the decades that preceded him had been tumultuous but people were trying to get along AND like one another. As lame as the 1970’s are thought of.. folks were having”Nice Days” complete with “smiley faces”.

HE brought with him, his crotchety old body in full theatrical make-up, old  cranky thoughts and ideas. Forget about the new and young, keep things the same way we old, mean, dying folks like it, because it is familiar and WE don’t like change. He managed to regurgitate ugliness and fear. Then it started reproducing.

Back to the matter at hand, A View From Inside.. as you venture in, you find each small subject matter takes on a life of it’s own.  It has to, because to gain understanding you have to “be there”. Ronald Reagan took up three paragraphs and could have involved more, because he was in my opinion a catalyst of something I selected to write about. He affected my ability to just navigate throughout the atmosphere of life without the worry of an apex predator; which now comes in the form of a job turn down, being cut off in traffic, my child not being selected for the lead in the school play, or false arrest waiting to devour me and mine. Not because he is hungry, but because I am there.

Channeling Negative Energy

I felt like I was going to explode! Pressure coming up my esophagus, my chest slightly tight, the awful grimace in my face. I tell myself I want to be happy, but it seems there is a dark cloud hovering. How do you make yourself feel good when you are feeling bad? My thoughts were of all the things that were not going right. I need my little ray of sunshine, but I will not see her for a couple more days. Then the feeling I often return to..escape. I think of how would it be to just walk away. When you find yourself beyond the half century mark, your mental state is so controlling of your physical state. In youth heart palpitations were exciting and generally directed toward an “object of affection”, now you may really be having a heart attack.

Here come the challenges again. They are in my small intimate world and the big pubic one. My “golden years” are set to begin in 11 short months( I can say 9 because I get to start the ball rolling next August). Am I expecting and anticipating too much? What if it is a disappointment, what if I cannot survive on the monthly pension, what if I have to work… I ask these questions and then I give myself a psychological shaking. There is good here, there is something/plenty to look forward to.

No matter what happens each day you are afforded another opportunity to make changes, because you have by the grace of God awakened.That should be viewed as the gift it is. I won’t allow myself to be captured and controlled by this negativity. That means somehow I have to be able to interject some positive. I have to channel that negative energy and put it to work for me. As bad as it makes me/you feel demonstrates it is strong and can therefore be utilized.  Prayer, meditation…helps clear that wonderful organ and allows it to work on what it was designed to do; think, figure out problems, or just calm our systems down and return them to the intended settings, in order for us to function properly. You have to sometimes walk yourself away from the things that are going on, even if it is just in your mind, and let your soul feel better.

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