I’ve been a black resident of the south my entire life. Translated: I have learned how to be okay with being discriminated against. I wear all white to work, my badge says RN, and my white patients still ask me if I’m the housekeeper. I smile, tell them no, point to my badge, and reintroduce myself as Rita, their nurse. My name is Charita, and they are never satisfied with me calling myself Rita. But I never hear them complain about Rebecca who goes by Becky or Elizabeth who goes by Lizzy. My white patients always want to know my last name and where I grew up, while I never hear Lizzy being questioned about her last name or where she’s from. I’ve become so accustomed to being apologetic for being an educated nigger that I have begun to forget that I am educated—not spoon fed or catered to. I had to work damn hard to get where I am, but I have allowed people to actually make me ashamed or feel less worthy of my position because of my melanin.
I am an author. At my book signings, I introduce myself as Jhordynn, the author of the fiction books on display. And white people immediately ask, “Did you write these books?” Why, heavens no. I’m just the editor, publisher, promoter, and author. Not the writer. You didn’t possibly think that a little ole colored gal could READ, let alone write multiple books over three hundred pages, did you? “So, they’re fiction? As in made up?” It is a mighty shame that of everything that has been taken away from my people, I didn’t allow my dreams and imagination to be stolen.
I have a huge rock on my left ring finger and a baby bump. And white people have asked me, “You’re married?” Gee, no. There is no way possible that I’m someone’s wife and mother of his child, instead of his baby mama that he’s shacking up with. Why, Sir, I don’t know the value of building strong homes and showing my children the way they are to respect the love of their lives and be respected by someone who claims they love them.
I had a full blown conversation about my mortgage payments, escrow, principal, etc, and a white woman asked me, “You own a home?” Gee golly, no, Ma’am. I pay a mortgage and lowering my principal on an apartment that I am renting. You didn’t possibly think that I actually saved thousands of dollars to build towards something that I can call my own, did you?
I have learned how to downplay my tone, walk, personality, because God forbid I be known as another loud Black woman. I remember shyly walking into my office because I had in cornrows that are stylish when the Kardashians wear them, but unkept when I wear them.
And quite frankly, I am tired of being tired of being Black. I am a MARRIED, pregnant registered nurse who travels the world promoting fiction books that I wrote, using my vivid imagination inside of a home that I own.
No, I don’t see that because Trayvon Martin had a picture throwing up both middle fingers that that okays a grown ass man killing him. No, I don’t agree that since Alton Sterling didn’t have a clean record in the past that means it’s perfectly okay for two cops to blow his chest out while laying on top of him, having to fish for the gun inside of Mr. Sterling’s pocket. I have been known to disturb the peace according to Shreveport police department. I guess that means I have a long overdue execution with my name on it.
Honestly, I apologize every day to my unborn child for bringing him/ her into this world. A world where at some point in his life, he will feel the need to apologize for being black. Some day, she is going to have to down play her “blackness” because it isn’t welcome. There’s going to come a time where he will have to laugh off the racial slurs in order to keep his job and not be black balled.
From the moment that I saw the “Yes” on the pregnancy test, I began to repent. Please, Lord, forgive me for bringing a child into a world that is so dim. A world where he has rights, but still isn’t free. I began to pray that He covers my child in honor, glory, wisdom, and that my child be a part of the movement that brings about a change. I pray that God helps me instill the boldness that I have finally acquired after 28 years into my child before she goes to kindergarten.
I don’t live in a fairytale world. I know that marching and protesting won’t change hatred in peoples’ hearts. I’m well aware that boycotting won’t change what is proudly rooted in someone. But I also know that being quiet and apologetically Black won’t either. I know that respect isn’t given; it’s earned. You don’t have to like me. But you damn sure won’t belittle me.
I never want my child to be tired of being tired of being Black.