To all my friends growing up,
You’ve been seeing my bitter posts, my blogs, podcasts, you’ve even shared them sometimes,if they aren’t too political. This time, it’s different; its like you’re all collectively hearing an ugly song that’s been in my playlist my entire life. It’s played in the background while we drank together on McClain or Beth’s land; we’ve even had conversations about it as stoned teenagers. You hear it’s hum that vibrates up and down my spine every time I laugh off a racist joke.
I’m so grateful. I know it’s hard to do this, as it’s completely foreign and humbling, but I must also let you know that I’m making changes myself. All of us have learned behaviors passed through generations that can be problematic or a blessing.
My Grandma Allie was a poet, playwright, activist, and twin mom. I would kill to relive those afternoons in her bedroom now because I am the most aware that she knew what she was talking about. She’d pluck a few of us from our coven of over sixty female cousins and we’d sit in chairs facing her while she reclined in bed; chainsmoking cigarettes as she lectured us on protecting ourselves, using our words, not compromising for bullshit, regular grandma stuff.
Now I know why wash day was usually Sunday, because nearly every Saturday growing up throughout my childhood and adolescence I sat in a room with the door closed, barely even 46 inches away from CARTONS of Virginia Slim and her silvery silhouette that made a home in my hair. I even remember a couple of occasions coming home hearing Mama mutter to herself after my new scent permeated the Altima on the ride home, “I just bought that fuckin’weave.”
All smoke filled weaves aside, Grandma Allie makes more sense to me than anything in the entire world. She, along with eavesdropping on every adult conversation within earshot, taught me how to use profanity and to say it like I meant it. I completely forgot until my cousins reminded me that she’d make us use the words to show that they were only words, and what happened after the words was what mattered. After the words, she basically expected us to beat the shit out of anyone in our way.
Actually, my Grandma Allie told me to “Kick they mothafuckin ass.”
The women in my family are strong. Not all the time though, who is? I feel the constant need to look strong, even when I’m not. But maybe my biggest strength wasn’t knowing that if need be I could change the “insense and crystals to Colt 45 and Newports” (Erykah Badu), it was knowing who deserved it and who didn’t.
Ya’ll were baking muffins, we learned how to respond to racists.
We are not the same.
But that’s okay, you didn’t have to be.
That’s white privilege, and it’s okay that you have it, it’s okay that you know what it is, and it’s okay to feel confused and maybe even offended in the beginning. I am often offended by white privilege and have been waaay before it was called that. To me, it was just normal life.
None of the kids I grew up with had a bunch of black kids around. In fact, Bixby only had two families, Tuckers, Goff, Johnsons, Jacksons, (They’re a whole family) then the McGills (Not to be confused with Travis, Kyle, Karley or Kristen.)
I mean, I don’t consider that a privilege, maybe more of a disservice. At one time I thought being one of the only families made me feel privileged. So, I will tell you what I picked up from hanging with white kids my whole life.
You can run across the street without getting hit. I’m talking about those game day walks through town to Bueno.
Girls are scared, insecure and trying to be strong in all races and social classes.
Being part of a very, very strong and confident crew of girls, I learned how to go anywhere without expectation of being asked to leave, but mostly because I arrived with you.
Raisins go in salad. And so does Mayo. In fact you can put both into anything. Sometimes with carrots.
Dogs sleep in beds like people (I sleep with my dog now)
Crying and feigning confusion can get you out of almost anything. YOU, not me. But it is fun to watch and I’ve always been impressed.
Women, gays, animal rights, people with disabilities, vaccinations are things that are VERY important to you, but not in that order. I’ve silently wished you would share my story and experiences that I write as much as you share articles about why rice cereal is bad in bottles.
I’ve known for years that the fight is above your head and until we started having children I realized that while I’m teaching my boys to put their hands where they can always be seen, your kids only interaction with children of color might be my own. Just like I was yours.
And that means that they won’t fight for my boys either if they don’t feel the need.
I love you. I also love your parents even moreso now because I know their acceptance, interest, and treatment of me had more to do with their character than societal views. Your parents all made me feel welcomed, like one of their own; especially my senior year.
ESPECIALLY my senior year.
I’m not upset that you’ve been quiet because Grandma Allie also taught me that some people just don’t know..It’s not their fault they can’t see or hear your song, especially your saddest, most tragic song. Those are the hardest to find, even harder to listen to.
I always appreciate those who hear and join in to dance. I’m not looking for who isn’t anymore, my focus now is who is out on the floor with me, sweating out our makeup and showing our ancestors that we are doing something they never dreamed possible.
Because ALL of my teammates, best friends, even some of my boyfriends’ moms were on the dancefloor in their own way and I noticed. It’s why I love you and always will. Thanks for coming to the party, can I offer you a glass of Champagne?