Monday, July 15, 2013

Yesterday...This Was Hard to Write.

I actually found myself in tears last night as I went to bed. I promised myself I would not get emotionally tied into the recent news. I guess it finally hit me yesterday as I read replies on an image I posted. The cold response and what happened in my life earlier the same day brought me to tears. My eyes are still puffy from crying myself to sleep last night. I'm still trying to shake this off. Crazy right?

See I had a status stating that I had not done much most of the day so I was going to take the kids out to the park. We ended up staying home and they played outside. As I was outside with the two little ones letting them play in their pool and various toys, I heard a car passing by and glanced up. It was a police car patrolling by. I wondered why they would be patrolling because we don't see those very often where we live. This apparently was described as an "upscale neighborhood." I've seen better, but it is a nice neighborhood. It's situated around a golf course that is well taken care of. Our view of nature keeps us surprised and entertained. It's something we appreciate. Let me add we are not the only minorities living in this neighborhood. As the police car passed I continued to play with my daughters. I glanced back just to see if they were going to turn around and pull into our driveway like the other police officer did about a month ago. No, they pulled into the cul de sac beside us. It's an empty grassy lot that allows you to look right down to us from where the police officer pulled into. At that point our door was open so when I saw it make a turn I called for Richard to come outside. I wanted a witness. Apparently in our society if there are no witnesses then it's hard to believe these things happen.  The police car sat across from me as my back was turned. I know because I heard the car running there. I'm well aware I'm being watched, seen, observed, could it be racial profiling? Whatever you see fit to call it. Maybe I should have felt protected? But against what? The police officer paused for a moment. I turned around to look at the car and then they slowly roll towards the street and then drive off. Rich comes to the door just in time to see it drive off up the hill...

I tried to play it off that it didn't bother me. You know since things like that shouldn't bother me because we live in a "post racial" society. We have a biracial president and all right? You may believe so. I guess I didn't play it off well because Rich says it's changed my mood. I became quiet and withdrawn. I pondered what my threat to this neighborhood was, I questioned my own safety if I was to be out at night, would a Zimmerman approach with a gun to "question" me? Is a mother playing with her children suspicious? I wasn't portraying any sort of "look". I had on a long skirt and t-shirt. The same clothes I wore to church. Did I look wrong? Do I not have a right to live in this neighborhood? We don't cause problems. My kids have had a few parties but you want to know something else? All of the kids that had been here for those parties look white at first glance. I wondered why I can't play outside with my kids without the chance of a police car either pulling into our driveway asking-"Those yours?" or slowly "watching." It makes me hesitate because I don't know what my experience is going when I step outside my front door. Does everyone feel this way about going outside?  If I say the word racism people roll their eyes and say "Oh give us a break! You can't prove it. No that's not right. You shouldn't...." to block it out and deny it happens. It happens more often that we speak about. In fact my children don't even know about what happened yesterday. They will eventually because I'm having a hard time shaking this feeling, or even stopping myself from tearing up while blogging this. See this is MY life. It's a little of what being brown in America is like. People don't like to hear of that stuff. Everyone has their opinions about the life I live. What I should do, where I should go, what I should say. No one is satisfied. If I speak about it, I'm shunned, labeled, dismissed, disregarded -unheard- If I remain quiet it's a suffer in silence lifestyle.

As I go about my day doing normal things like playing with the kids, cleaning etc...my mind wanders again thinking, maybe they were just admiring a mom playing with their kids? But from the constant reactions from sales man and delivery men bluntly saying, "Wow we don't see many of YOU in this neighborhood." it's hard to believe that the police officer wasn't observing that fact also. My children were even told by their friends that they didn't expect them to live here saying things such has, "...but you are black!" Yes it has been boldly said to us more than a few times. Are we only expected to live in all black areas? Low income buildings? Apartments? Nothing higher? Maybe if I'm a famous black person I'll get a pass to live in a decent area with out the surprise reactions. Every time I open my door to a stranger they are challenged to know who I am. Maid? Babysitter? Oh *pause* Homeowner?

Some make sense of "us" being here as soon as they see my husband. I guess I got a pass since my husband at first glance is white? He's not, he is British. A foreigner. Its entertaining to watch their reactions when they hear his english accent. How and WHY on earth did HE marry HER? He hates it, I deal with it. Friends and even the people at our very own church asked that same question. My husband is frequently reminded of the heavy question I asked him before we started dating, "Are you ready for an interracial relationship?" He said yes, but he didn't exactly know what he was in for. One of my husband's old roommates told my children in joke form we were getting married because of Visas. My husband wanted his Visa to live in the US, and I wanted my husband's Visa to spend money. Yeah folks, it was presented as a joke but proven otherwise in proceeding comments. Good thing it went right over their heads. Just for the record, my husband got a work Visa it had nothing to do with marriage, his residency was in the works before we even met. As far as his Visa, I don't like credit cards. I've never even slid a credit card with his name through a slot to purchase anything. Nevertheless, I guess I'm tainted? Not good enough? Who said and when did I prove that? What stereotype have I lived up to? It's deniable by others but I know it's race.  It's the only thing you know of me before I speak. You see I'm called an African American by many, not just an American and the preconceived ideas pop into your mind. They do and you know they do. It works both ways. I admit when I see another person looking at me, I wonder if they will be nice or offend me. Will they say something racist? Are they accepting of me? It's a subtle bracing of yourself. It's sad but a way of life for me.  It's a learned behavior through years of experience. In fact we are taught to prepare ourselves for it at a young age.

I can't set blame on one set of people as a whole for the struggles we face. Everyone, every race, plays a part of it. Of course we'd all like to excuse ourselves from being titled as racist. It's natural to deny it and hide it. I'd be so boldly to say we have laws that provide holes to duck in from it. Until we are able to open our eyes to the harsh reality of another person's struggle we have caused due to our own issues with race, there will always be a problem. It's easy to excuse yourself from the words, actions and beliefs when you aren't directly affected. For example, the police officer, friends, delivery men, salesman, etc. have left me feeling unworthy, but aren't affected immediately by their own actions or words. They go off and live their lives, leaving me with words that question my worth of existence in society. Others may say I shouldn't let that bother me. Easier said than done folks, especially if you don't live in that reality. The crazy thing is when you live a life like this it builds up. People cry as I did last night, people lash out in anger, and people even kill. The pressure of a lifestyle when you are constantly viewed as less than has to release in some way. Prayerfully it's in a nonviolent way, because if you do get violent...as Dave Chappell said "Oh naw, don't do that, that's 5-10!"  In a recent case it was 20.

If you aren't in this reality of life, be respectful to others who are. Do not tell them how to feel. Offer compassion or words of encouragement. Don't pity them, make excuses, deny their reality or question their feelings when you haven't walked a mile in their shoes.

I love being outside but today I hesitate it. However God has NOT given us a spirit of fear... I declare I will live in peace.

 

6 comments:

Ahermitt said...

Well said. I really have no words, but Amen.

Tawanna said...

Thank you. Life gets tough but we have to go on. Try our best not to spread the hate given out. Love never fails. I'm going to choose to believe that. LOL I'm going outside again ;)

Maydom said...

<3

Karen said...

OF COURSE that racial profiling should upset you!!!!!!!
I am so angry and hurt for you, Tawanna. You have told me about that type of thing before, where someone comes to the door and is surprised to see a black woman open the door.
OF course we know in our hearts that the people who allow their prejudices to override their appropriateness are in the wrong. But what in the world can we do in this world except for make our little corner of it as safe, loving, and compassionate as possible.

I hate it that a woman as full of life and love as you are has to, still, prepare her children for a world that holds you suspect because of the color of your skin.

In the meantime, if it helps, remember, there are many good people out here who love you.

(Also, I was thinking about you just this morning...are you up for visitors while we are home???? The next two weeks are rather chaotic, but after that it would be fun to get together...)

BTW, I know Ahermitt (The commenter above)! She and I know one another through our blogs!

SMOOCHES and lots of love,
Karen

miss.ann said...

Tawanna, My heart breaks for your pain. I have experienced much of the same profiling from should I be in this neighborhood to am I the nanny or the maid. You must not let them take from you the gift of the life you have earned. You deserve the same treatment and respect as anyone else. My heart is with you. Hold your head up and live your life proud.

Sherilyn said...

Tawanna,

I'm so sorry that at your home and in your neighborhood where you should be able to live at peace and feel safe, your experience has been the opposite. I hope to encourage you by reminding you that The LORD is your Rock, your Fortress, and your Savior; He is your God, in whom you will always find Protection. He is your
Shield, the Power that saves you, and your place of Safety (Ps 18:2)! Love you so much!
Shawn