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Recently I read a piece entitled, “Why I’m Absolutely an Angry Black Woman,” and it touched my heart in a way that I could not describe. The plight of the Black woman, and Black and Hispanic people primarily have always affected me, and pissed me off. Seeing a White person call a Black woman a “bitch” or Black “bitch” either to their face, or in response to a public figure as opposed to another has disgusted me, and ended what I thought were friendships.
Reading this piece also offered me a clearer visualization of concepts that I know exist. It also reminds me of the values that is placed on color both within the Black community, and Hispanic community (which I come from). It also lead me to question my reactions or the way that I deal with this world.
I grew up viewing the United States, erroneously referred to as America by an New York and International parent in the South of the 1980’s which was a virtual community of Black and White. For much of my young life I was “Spanish” but at the end of the day “Black.” “Black” was perfectly fine, because I was raised to be proud of such, but whenever we visited New York throughout the year, and the two years that we lived in New Jersey, “Black” was a totally different experience than the repressed values of the South.
As a child I was regarded with ire due to my world view that did not fit my surroundings. When I began to like girls outside of my home, and in school with me, I did not know that there was a “taboo” of liking a White girl…especially because when you can count the Black children in the school on one hand, you like whatever you see. When I was running around the field as part of P.E. and two White boys said that they could not play with me because I was “colored” I did not understand them, nor did they stop playing with me. That is likely is when the seeds of being oblivious, or truthfully not giving a fuck were truly founded.
My parents were stalwarts of two lines of specific thought. My Cuban mother’s mantra was that no one is better than you, however in this country you have to work two times harder to get the same things that other people get. My father focused on education. As children we were raised in the Catholic Church, and most of the time in Catholic Private schools. In the area where I was raised, at times I did feel “superior” to those around me, because I had a sense of self long before my true socialization, and an individual identity. My Cuban heritage made me “special,” and I had more to offer in my mind.
Though it may be oxymoronic to say the preceding, but in many ways I also felt a responsibility to others, and to put off my needs to help others. Therefore when something racist or bigoted happened to someone else, I felt a duty to stand up for them…anything that occurred with me, was mine, and mine alone to address when it was time. I would be fine, as I always have. Mind you, as a Catholic school high school student, I was very militant. I quoted Malcolm X often, and criticized the government in an open forum. But, I also learned about the man specifically and the growth of a man.
I digress, I eventually taught myself work on items silently, and the regular bigotry which permeates this country rolled off of my back. Is it the best way to deal with the challenge…I am not sure. Am I empathetic, yes. I have fears, especially as someone who wants children. Daily a Black man is killed by a police force, or vigilante and there is no justice for these actions. How am I not numb?
After writing, potentially this country, media, etc. have taught me not to feel in many situations. I guess that is why I take extreme pleasure when I do feel. I am thankful for this piece to inspire me to search myself.
The manuscript Blue Lines is the fictional coming of age narrative of a young California woman Key Yemaya Walker, and her 2 year growing journey through school, love, and life period piece, taking place at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill between the years of 1997 – 1998. Loosely based on true events, and experiences during that time, told through the eyes and voice of the main female protagonist, a freshman first attending the school.