Listening, part one

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June 13, 2020 by kittynh

Thank you to Andre Morell for again allowing me to share his powerful words.

It’s time for LISTENING, and I hope learning.

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36 years old and the level of exhaustion I feel over the past 2 weeks is considerable.

I remember the first time it really hit me in the face I was Black, I was 10 years old. I suppose like many a 10 year old, you wander a store without your parent. I remember it vividly, one of the few times I escaped my Mother for a few hours…

My Dad had a prescription needed to be filled at the Rite Aid that’s still there off of Allerton Ave in the Bronx…

Course he is at the pharmacy, and I wanna go look at toys, cause 10.

I always had money in my pocket, and knew never to touch anything I wasn’t going to buy and even if I was, to be super careful as not to break it.

I touched the toys as the other kids did, who just happened to be White… and I picked one up, put one down, so on and so forth, till my Dad came looking for me, and yeah he knew where I was….

Just being a normal 10 year old. After that just being bored, walking up and down the aisles browsing, reading things, as such is my nature. When I get bored I tend to read…

Mind you I’m standing still reading, not up and down the aisles, not knocking anything over, not making a scene.

Just reading. No one else is around, I’m standing and reading.

This security guard comes, White, starts asking me how I am, say I’m fine, ask how he is doing, it’s polite at first. My dad who is down the aisle to the pharmacy he makes eye contact with me, motions his hand…which basically means “let’s go”… so I put the book back, and proceed to walk out… my Dad is ahead of me, walks out, expects me to be right behind him…

The security guard who i just spoke too, throws me against the wall. Starts patting me down. I’m yelling for help, he’s running his hand down my legs, my shirt, my pockets… stating I must’ve taken something to just be walking out the store….

I have tears in my eyes, I’m screaming for help, not one adult stopped to intervene, not one cashier, clerk, nobody.

My Dad after about 5 minutes walks back inside, sees this, and they start cursing, going back and forth, I really thought my Dad was going to lay this dude out….

Eventually I am let go. I remember the walk back to the car I am shaken up,

My Dad yells at me, angry and pissed “What were you doing, how can you be so stupid, do you know what just happened”…

I’m just at a loss, I’m crying, I don’t know what the hell just happened…

We pull off somewhere, and he hugs me. Right then and there in that car, right off near City Island, we get some good and we have “the talk”…

It was time. He explained to me you are Black, you stick out, you can’t just browse like everyone else. You have money but people will always assume you are a thief or shoplifting, had that been an actual cop you could’ve been shot. All of sudden all the innocence I had in that way, was now gone as well…. couple that with the abuse at home from my Mother, I felt completely worthless in that moment.

But I can say my shopping and browsing habits changes that day, and still with me.. I go the aisle I need too, I always get a receipt or bag, but always a receipt even if they have to write it and sign it. I love paying with a credit card or debit card instead of cash because I can pull up literal proof instantly…..

I don’t hover in aisle, I spend less than 10 minutes in any given store, as far as actual shopping goes…if they don’t have what I need, I leave, I don’t ask clerks anything. I always have my payment method in my hand while I am in line even if there are 20 people in front of me…

The best Ma, I’ve ever had is as White as they come, the woman who is my absolute Queen is Italian, and I’ve been with more White women than Black romantically…so for me I know it is not an issue of hate. My best friend is White and we’ve known each other three decades now.

I tell you being Black is to always in many spaces having to tiptoe around other people’s feelings, and worse their assumptions about you.

You’re never free of it. It’s always there on every interaction with one’s you don’t know, at work, job interviews, while shopping.

You deal with the stares, the clutching of purses, the insults to your intelligence, the questioning of it, it’s so exhausting, every damned day.

And you want to rage and snap, all the time. And you tell yourself it’s not that bad, there are good things, not all, but it happens with so much regularity, ironically you can’t breath in your skin.

The day I can just retire to some distant land, just with my Queen, and not have to deal with the world so much. I’d be happy, because then I could finally relax.

I’m 36 and I’m just so damned tired….

 

THANK YOU AGAIN ANDRE!

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