For the first time in my life, my words have left me without my permission. They fly away like dandelion seeds in a gentle breeze and I worry they will never come back. My thoughts, a rolling royal blue- Black ocean in a storm that won’t seem to end. I’m lost, without a paddle and unable to find where I’m meant to be going. I can never go back, but what even is forward where the ocean and angry bruised sky collide into an endless expanse of — nothing.
I can remember every moment of realization that I, am the other.
There were jokes around tinkie winkie’s purse. It was ridiculed and shamed, boycotted and discussed and although I didn’t know what “gay” was, I knew I didn’t understand the issue and that “gay” was hated. I kept my mouth shut.
I over heard whispers in the early morning when I was meant to be sleep, soft gospel swirling around the smells of warm biscuits. They were arguing. The older Black couple caring for me that weekend as their house slowly became a refuge from the whirling storm in my mind. He said they needed to tell me what was happening, that I couldn’t be kept in the dark, and it was for my safety, just in case. She said I was too young and it would scare me.
Over breakfast with sausage patties and biscuts and eggs, sat upon two yellow page phone books, His wife drilled her eyes into him as he told me against her wishes. He focused those deep brown eyes on me and told me about the racism and sexism my mother was fighting, the people who wanted to harm her for DARING to speak up, and the things I needed to be careful about for a while. He said she was brave and going on the radio to speak. He left it up to me to decide if we would listen to it. I said yes as he stood to change the channel. I learned that she was Black, WE were Black, and hated. The vitriol spewed by the opposing side, the neon green of it, soaked into the fabric of my life, as he refused to hide this from me, at least when his wife wasn’t around.
Tom boys are ok, for now. The subtle poision tipped knife in my back reminded me. The women smiled in my face lovingly, brilliant smiles brightening the room but the coldness behind the eyes would only tolerate these antics for so long. You’ll be a lady one day, or you’ll never be worth much. You’ll shame our family and endanger yourself. Endanger us. We can not do what others do and you need to be more presentable. Always.
The neighbors had nerf guns. Mama said we couldn’t use them. I thought she was just anti violence. And she was, but not in the way that I thought.
I walked and then crawled through the Arts and Sciences college building until I couldn’t move. Slumped on the ground, curled in a ball I quietly cried as students walked past me. The world flashed in bright whites and golden yellows blended with sicken Blacks and greens as I clutched my stomach. It burned. I grinned and reassured the security guard that walked the hall. I didn’t want any problems. When it eased I hobbled into classes for a few hours gritting my teeth all the way through.
Months later I found out what was wrong with me and I knew in my heart that life, had just gotten more complicated. I’d heard the people mocking disabled people, the jokes, the irritation. And although I also knew I would be unable to have kids, I had a feeling it didn’t bode well to my dating prospects. I sobbed for days, and continued to on and off for a few years.
Pity is superiority cloaked in kindness, and I saw pity in the eyes of so many, it haunts me to this day.
My brother ran away once. I was devastated. My step father sat me down and told me stories of his rough childhood. That every kid runs away and that he would come back. When the sheriff dropped my brother off, he changed.
They don’t caare about n*gger kids. They aren’t your friends and aren’t there for you. They are worse than me, never forget that.
These moments are unending flashes of lighting in the storm of my mind, all because my tail light wasn’t plugged in properly. Blinded by the light of his flash light, it was as though I’d gotten a bolt to the heart, and split into tiny peices.
Not for my life ( I lost that fear long ago) but for I was suddenly standing on the edge of an oblivion and saw the chasm of power. Every moment of hate towards people like me replayed in a singular moment. A cacophony of sounds and images and one real feeling.
100% complete helplessness. Eye wide, shaking, I blurted out “I have a panic disorder!” gambling that this would allow him to see me not as a collection of hated ideas, but to see my humanity, and not stack an addtional tic against me.
I’d practiced saying that for two years and I still wasn’t’ ready for the moment. As ill prepared as I was for the stop, I was in no way prepared to be faced with …
Speechless again. The words catch in my throat like the urge to vomit or scream for even thinking them is so painful, I run.
The world does not see me as human for one reason of another. Majority of poeple intentionally or otherwise see themselves as suprior to people like me. And honestly the laws and legal system supports these beliefs… that I, am not human. And in this lack of humanity the uniqueness of me stacks. It stacks so high that I can no longer move under it’s weight. I am… Helpless.
Society does not treat non-humans well. Without the willingness of others to see the humanity in me, I, only exist until someone tires of me. So, I’ve been asking people to, to see me, to accept me, to view me as a whole and loveable person…
It’s a fight.
I’ve been asking, begging really, but often I get pity back. I carry the weight of your unwillingness to be uncomfortable, at the cost of my very humanity. This knowledge has stricken me with a fear so deep and disheartening that I’ve all but given up on humanity as a whole. I have so little power in this world and ultimately for this to change, those around me will have to decide to value people like me. that our blight isn’t some tragety but instead an intional unwillingness to give what back has been stolen.
My faith that people would make the effort to see and reaffirm my humanity has been rocked to the core. That night in the car I saw even my limited life is seen as disposible by so many. I felt the fear of another holding my life in his hands with likely no consequences. I saw in full, the differences in how I, and you, the world, view my humanity, worthiness, and value. It was horrifying. And I can’t MAKE that change. Only you can do that.
but will you….
I wrote this before the protests started. Before enough was enough and people are still dying because of these imbalances. Everyday a new name shows up, it feels like. Today was a Black trans woman. I think the world is finally starting to see how little Americans value the lives of it’s minorities, in general, but particularly Black lives. Every day I see people performing their care, failing to focus on the issue, wearing down the souls of the Black people in my life, mostly through ignorance and incompetence. The police and potentially military attack my people and the world is watching. Suddenly everyone cares. Wants to do better.
but will they?
Those outside the us, do they seem their reflections in their struggles within their own countries? To the newly “woke” when will the shininess wear away and the desire for the comfortable power they held have a draw too high to ignore. A white loved one asked me if I could smell rain. He seems to feel this time it’s different. He smells rain coming. The rain to wash away the last dredges of what is holding the majority of White folks back, from avoiding the issue of Black peoples humanity is coming any moment now. If they are ready, or not.
I hope he’s right.
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