Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Follow Up on Back Fence PDX
Sorry you can't really see me all that well, but the place was so crowded it was hard for my sweetie to get a proper picture. Anyway Back Fence PDX was really fun! All the storytellers got at least a laugh or two from the crowd & each teller relayed something personal or meaningful or both. I think I told the shortest story. Perhaps it was because my tale was quite personal & therefore I was nervous. But I got great feedback & I hope what I said may be helpful to those who may wish to understand better the effects racism can have on a young person. And that awakenings can change lives.
I think I've mentioned bits of the story I told at Back Fence on my old blog but here it is in short.
As a high school freshman I had a big crush on a blond haired blue eyed junior we'll call DB. After getting the courage up (sorta) I got a pal to give him a rose on my behalf. When school ended that day, I got on the bus to go home, which happened to be the same bus DB was on (we lived only blocks from each other & went to the same church). My best friend overheard what would wind up crushing my spirit for years to come.
Other blond haired blue eyed girls from our same church teased DB about the rose I gave him. They asked if that mulatto girl gave him a rose. Mulatto!
It was as if I wasn't just a girl with a crush. I was a mulatto girl & therefore different & worthy of being the butt of their jokes.
It took years to repair my self esteem. I felt that by virtue of being brown & mixed race that I was less than for years & went about trying to prove to whomever would let me that I was pretty enough, smart enough, talented enough, to be worthy of another persons affection. The incident with DB & those girls wasn't the only pain filled moment back then around my races. Television, magazines, and the media at large all confirmed in my mind that women of color were different and to some degree sub-par. Seeing women of color in so many leopard print outfits or as sidekicks to their main character white friends made me think our kind was considered less than equal.
After quitting drinking in 1999 I lived in in a big house with a few other clean & sober women. Our home had a very large bathroom & I decided to take a candlelit bath in our 2 person, 6 spa jet bathtub. That night I touched my own skin slowly, gently & with intention for the first time. Yes it was sensual but self seduction wasn't my goal. The goal was to treat myself the way I deserved & learn to accept loving touch as a fully equal human being.
That evening I looked at my skin fully for the first time. And when I viewed my brown skin I realized it was beautiful. That the skin I was in was meant to be & exactly as it should be. That the person I am inside this body is lucky to have this face, this body & this skin. I knew from that day on I would never wish to be white again. And that my true colors are indeed beautiful!