Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Colored Contradictions




I said I wasn't going to respond to Jill Scott's op-ed in Essence magazine this week. I said it and I meant it. But then I did what I try so hard not to do, I got caught up in it and allowed my empathic self to get immersed in my feelings of hurt, anger and betrayal from my own past. Now I have no intentions of this blog being one big confessional but what I have learned from the comments here and on Facebook, and the private emails, is that I often dare to say some of the things we all think and feel but don't write about. And that is a confession I am willing to make publicly. For the truly intense and personal things I can always go around the corner to the Catholic church if I feel the need to have my soul cleansed, nine years in Catholic school I know how to do it - "Bless me father, for I have sinned, it's been five minutes since my last confession."

Let me start this post with a story. I was standing outside one beautiful Spring afternoon with three phenomenal women. Smart, beautiful, progressive and all white. One of them showed a picture of her boyfriend, prefacing the display of his visage by saying, "He's 45 but could pass for 30 ALL DAY," I was eager to see this man. And then I saw the picture - he was black. I winced. I did. Me standing there, married, at that time for 7 years to a white man. I winced. I felt that the wince was an internal one - one not visible to the eyes outside the "race," but she immediately turned to me and said, "Do you hate me?" This caught me off guard. Her honesty, her awareness that this relationship might actually affect me, me who had NO chance of dating that man. And I turned to her and said, "I smarted for a second, but no I don't hate you. Love who you will." And I meant that. And I would love for my wince to have come immediately from a history lesson of black women as mammies and work-horses and single black women blamed for emasculating our men when in actuality it was the white power structure that cut their balls off and pimped out our uterus while killing our seed. I have that - firmly in my DNA. But I winced because I had a more personal response. I thought of the all the black men in my personal history who I loved who did not love me back. I thought of all the black men who stepped over me: an able, beautiful and brilliant woman, to get to the blonde on my left. That was the pain behind that wince. And that was not a pain I wanted to hold onto, nor a pain I wanted to have hold me back.
And I admit - it seems ridiculous for me, a black woman who has been in interracial relationships, married outside my ethnicity and have multiracial children, to wince. But I did. I don't anymore. I feel the pain, often of not belonging fully in any community because of my relationship choices, but I don't wince.

I think of how my best friend, years ago, had a bit of trepidation in her voice when telling me that she was dating a black man. I felt, then, that I had the right to be righteously indignant about her choice. She was far more sensitive than another white friend who told me that the black man she was dating was about as "black as I was." I knew that wasn't going to last - her relationship or our friendship and neither did. But my BFF knows me, she knows my soul and she knew how I felt even though it wasn't a fight she ever had with me, because I think she also knew it was not a fight worth having. Does it still sting when I see a black man with a white woman in particular, yea it does. And not because I think they don't have the right to be together - of course they do. In this world take love where you can find it. It just brings back to the front of my eyes my personal pain and my love/hate affair with the black men from my past. And it is one of my 100 angels showing up to tell me to get my own affairs in order. To clean up my own house first. Is this topic so much bigger than I could ever fully address here? Of course it is but I felt I would not be honest if I didn't tell you these stories. They are the makings of me. A beautiful, brilliant and flawed sister of the yam - working on my self recovery.

in peace,
keisha

3 comments:

adam g. said...

As we used to say back in the day "that's deep".

I don't even know where to begin to comment on this, but what I can say is I completely understand and relate to the wince - I don't think there's a black man or woman on the planet that can't.
And I know that I've been wincer and wincee at various points in my life, but color be damned, we all wince when we've been scorned don't we?
very much enjoy reading your posts.
-adam

Amy Elaine said...

Thank you for sharing that perspective, BFF. I have never really understood why that bothered you, but I think I am starting to get it now.
Love, me

Nanda said...

Adam,
I agree - it hurts to be scorned, no matter the color, but I think the knife takes a special twist when it is someone from our race. And that is not to say that is appropriate - we are products of our history - recent and distant. Thank you for your thoughts especially as it relates to a man wincing - never really thought about that - but I know it's true. in peace