I grew up believing I could change the world. Was it going to be my voice? I think I can sing. I enjoyed watching Aileen Quinn sing, "The Sun Will Come out Tomorrow" in the movie Annie and matched my tone with hers. In fifth grade, my reality came true when I won the school's lead as "Annie." I was over the moon to be starring in a play. I never even knew my voice was appreciated by anyone or anything other than Nana's shower curtain. I was enamored with the idea... but then I heard it... A Black Annie??? And so it began.
I had to not just be Annie. Because I was black, I had to show a different or special kind of talent to be able to prove that "even though I'm black" I could do this. I guess this was one of my earliest encounters with racism. A time that was supposed to be filled with wonder, amazement, and talent, was filled with measuring up to an ideal "white Annie." Who, by the way, I just thought the chick could sing and had cute freckles.
A lot of my best friends were white in grade school. I wonder how many of my white friends can say that a lot of their best friends in grade school were black? I wasn't raised to "hate" white people, even though my grandmother carried the burden of wanting to be "white" in the thirties in order to escape the bitter cold walking to school, while white students sneered at her from their warm school bus, chanting, " Don't you wish you were white, so you can ride the bus like us? Ah-hhaaaa, you're not." I would hear these stories and all I could do was thank GOD that my white friends weren't like that. As a child, those were my thoughts. My grandmother or grandfather, having being descendants of slaves, did not teach me to hate , nevertheless. So I grew up with the naivety that all people thought and felt the same as me. Hmmm. Ignorance is bliss.
I could paint a picture of a life filled with love and racism is but a distant memory. I could say that the pain that my grandmother felt as she walked in the cold wishing to be white left alongside the bus that carted away her antagonizers. But it would be ... ya know... a joke. Racism is real. The pain and legacy of it hurts.
Someone's IG post read, "I won't let some ignorant white racists make me forget about the dope white people that I know." My sentiments exactly. When we work together in love, stand in unity, and learn of each other, we win.
I have lots of unifying to do in my own community. We have some consoling to do for one another, building up of each other, and there's a host of emotions that we as a community are dealing with. We could use good friends, and good people who don't necessarily look like us to stand with us as we mourn loss, protest racism peacefully, and UNDERSTAND our need to protect and teach our children, particularly our black sons.
Stand with us.
I've created a whole mug line and t-shirt line for my cause, ENOUGH.
I wonder if you'll take a look?
Written with love,