Picture of the month

Picture of the month
Life is circular

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Easy on the peddle

On a recent trip back to my hometown I met a young lady from New Orleans who now resides in a small town in Colorado. Here we are going into the second year after Katrina and still so many from the not so well off neighborhoods of the crescent city are still living elsewhere.
As I sat on a rental car shuttle on the way to pick up my ride I could not help expressing my excitement about being back in the south and in particular some place warm.So I started a conversation with a few passengers seated around me.The talk went on I turned towards the only black member of the group stating to her she resembled a young Sheryl Swoopes who plays for the Houston Comets of the WNBA. She looked at me with a slightly dimpled smile and said she had never heard of her.I immediately thought of the Steely Dan song hey nineteen.That was not the part of
the conversation that troubled me though.
Just a few minutes before this her partners sister explained to me that they did not want to leave the "big easy" but do to the circumstances of course they had no choice. While the family had reservations about going to this small town in "the wilds of" Colorado it was better than the alternative which was becoming homeless.
Continuing to try and make conversation I asked them how they liked the area now.The brother in law chimed in he was pleasantly surprised and since they had a toddler it was a good place to raise their son.The sister on the other hand started by saying that the two young ladies seated to my left were getting along fine and they were quit popular as the only interracial lesbian couple in town. This came as a candid response and frankly I had not noticed or really cared but often my normal talkative southern nature leads me down streets better left unwalked. Not heeding to my own little alarm system that tells me stop here and now, I asked the young black lady
if the lack of diversity there besides herself bothered her.The response was no she did not miss blacks. Her partner, who was all of nineteen, jumped in to say she most certainly did miss black people and in fact she wondered where they were and made a point to ask around about it. I laughed at this as I commented about a similar occurrence.I told a story from my not so long ago past. I lived in a small town where I could go weeks without seeing another brown face besides my own, making a person of coloring siting a very big event for me. I connected to this young ladies feelings having shared a "where are they moment" as I refer to my cultural connection and once again it proves my theory on being linked to each other beyond any boundaries self imposed or other wise.
However today I thank her black partner too. The young woman gave me a heart felt response,one filled with a youthful exhilaration for the new and all the possibilities it could bring.One I also feel was probably born out of her very short life experiences that will continue to grow in maturity. Maybe her lessons so far dealt more with what is so wrong in the black community.She had not come up in a time like I did where legal segregation made every social economic level in the community close.We might not have hob nobbed with those on sugar hill but we saw them and knew that we were not all the constant ugly images even in success that we are projected to be.
Of course I will never know for sure but in that moment my heart felt a pang for me more than her. I know and understand what she said but I wondered to if she would grow into the kind of black person who would always feel that way. It seems to me I failed on that day myself.I was so shocked I gave a knee jerk response. I asked what have they taught you in school beyond Martin,Malcolm and Sojourna followed by saying be sure to get a college education no matter what.I went on about not being fouled by peoples initial kindness that she will have to make it in a world that does not really have much love for black women especially those of us who are darker.Even worst I said when you become a little older there are lessons you will discover and while its nice to jump the fence for a while never forget that to a wolf you are just a separated part of the flock. Way to much to lay on a kid I didn't know,who was on vacation and more importantly had more class than me on that day by not saying another word and hoping to get off that shuttle and be rid of me.
I'm not afraid to admit my mistakes, still I am more motivated not to repeat them.Today's youngsters can not be talked to like I was, there are other approaches and I already know and use them sometimes.My words came from a place I felt I was beyond.That constant reality check black give themselves. Was I reacting out of the hurt from yet another skin folk rejection of being around their own and was this an offense to be taken lightly or handled as I did.Just another day in the life of sister trying.The more I learn about other folks, the more I learn about me.

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