Last weekend I attended a party with Effin Guy and my sister. When Effin Guy and I arrived I immediately felt like I didn’t belong; aside from my sister and myself there were one I was the only other minority. I cannot say why I felt so uncomfortable; perhaps it was being out of my element at the party. (I am not a party person preferring to hang out with a book and some choice TV). It could have been that this was a conservative group; there were lots of conversations about “The Party” and upcoming races (I am an Obamamama and proud of it). It could have been that I really did not know the other people in attendance; It was the party of a family member of a mutual friend of Effin Guy and My sister and someone that I know through The Bee’s school. While we are friendly enough she had huge party to run and couldn’t keep me comfortable all night.
I womaned up and stayed for the party eventually relaxing enough to enjoy some food and conversation. Later on as my sister and I did a PM – Post Mortem – (a chat we do after some type of event where we just need to vent) we both agreed that while there was no one event that made us uncomfortable we did have a distinct feeling of being BLACK.
I know I am a Black Woman. I see myself in the mirror as I get dressed. I see it in the face of my daughter who looks a little like her dad and a lot like me. But what does that mean to be Black? I still like to think of myself as a person who likes yarn, books, trash TV and worrying about my teen. But I feel like I have so many roles to play: Rachee at work, Rachee at home, Rachee with Effin Guy that I cannot NOT think about race.
Conversations about race are difficult. While I have a decent relationship with most people I often worry find myself pausing before speaking out against something because I worry that I will be labeled “Angry Black Girl” or “difficult to work with.” I tread carefully; I once had a co-worker accuse me of being hard to talk to when I complained about a program but later had a peer tell me I was not assertive enough. Sometimes I wonder if my skin isn’t thick enough; I’ve heard people complain about my section of the library and I have to remind myself not to take it personally but are some of the slights directed at me due to my lousy shelf upkeep or due to it being MY section?
So how do I get comfortable asserting myself? Standing up for myself? Believing in myself?
I always reflect, “Is it me?” I know there are times that I come with the crazy and I have to be honest enough to see how my actions and behaviors are affecting the situation.
When I see that *I* am not the one, I then look externally and more often it can be the other person, it could be something independent of me and I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And what could I have done about that party? I did chat with a friend of Effin Guy’s about recipes and that was a start. I suppose I could have chatted with the other parents that I knew We could have played a few rounds of mom bingo and then started chatting about what our respective kids were doing for the summer.
This one incident made me feel for every person who may get caught in a situation in which they are the lone person of color. Faking it until I made it worked but I can only imagine having to experience that feeling of not quite being accepted but tolerated. It was draining and unnerving and it sucked.
Effing Guy and I spoke about it the next day and he started to apologize. I let him know that he did nothing wrong but was kind of glad t hat he didn’t ignore my thoughts. This opened another opportunity for us to talk about our differences and where we are coming from. Sometimes it’s not easy but it’s necessary and since we have started these conversations it’s getting much easier to be open.
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