I was tired of writing. I was tired of being angry at our political and social situation and having nothing else on my mind but that. I stopped writing because it only frustrated me more to live the nightmare and say nothing about it or to live the nightmare and talk constantly about it. It was a catch 22. I decided to let High Heels & Hot Flashes float and post on Facebook with informative stories, uplifting reports and ideas to a better life. What I learned the past six months is that most people want to improve every aspect of their lives and become better people.
Writing has been hard for me, even though I am a journalist, particularly because I am 71 years old. That may mean nothing to many folks and it’s not because I am too old to think. What age means to me is that I was in a generation that saw it all while being raised by parents and grandparents who were taught to bite their tongues, don’t get political, leave racial anger to other people. “Don’t get involved”. Then came Dr. Martin Luther King and even my grandparents were driven to speak up and speak out. It was admirable. Then came the death of the grandparents and parents but times had changed and we were left to survive in this world while bearing last generation ethics. For the most part, we had to do it silently.
I was silent for many years until I couldn’t take it anymore. I was silent through my high school and college years. I refused to participate in civil rights building takeovers on my campus. I was taught it was better to remain on the fence, publically. It was difficult to be silent in corporate America and anybody that has ever worked with me knows that. I, like many others, experienced automatic assumption that I couldn’t write and report as well as my white counterparts because of the color of my skin. It was assumed that my work needed to be reviewed for grammatical or factual errors. I never mentioned that unlike many of the parents of those checking my work, that my mother was an English major in college and an A student at that. My parents made sure we knew how to communicate with perfect english, perfect grammar and perfect punctuation, style and form in any communication. Even my husband as late as the 1990s had to endure a white colleague expressing shock that I was “well spoken” on television. My husband didn’t say what I would say to that man today. What I would say would intimidate him from ever speaking out of turn again.
With that said, Meghan McCain (of all people) forced me out of the chair and into the office to open my computer to write Monday for the first time since last year. The View dedicated Monday, January 21st to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. They opened with him explaining in a previously private video WHY African Americans consider themselves to be discriminated against more than any other race. Dr. King explained and his explanation shoved me out of the chair to login. WATCH IT and LEARN!
If you were not able to view the video on mobile devices, this is the link:
In a nutshell, he said that as the only race of people in this country who have been enslaved in this country, then freed with no land to get started independently, we have a right to complain. He said that as the only race dragged here in chains against our will, we have a right to bitch. He added that while freed slaves were denied land and goods to get started, European peasants were given thousands and thousands of acres of land in the midwest to get started in America. Yes, African Americans have had the right to complain, bitch, march, yell and continue to carry on to this day.
To this day and beyond may be more appropriate because what happened to freed slaves centuries ago, would happen now if the current president has his way. Many people, but definitely many African Americans will lose what land they own now, as they try to feed their children and miss mortgage or rent or car payments. Everyone with the president looks like the European peasants that got free land back then and they may be offspring of that group.
As a 71 year old woman who, due to good genes and a darker skin tone, can easily pass for 20 years younger, so I will in what I have to say. If silence is betrayal, then I shall no longer betray those who are not sure where I stand. This is not only an announcement to all those racist white men with whom I worked and who felt the need to “check” my work. This is also a message to the white woman with whom I once worked who apologized for inviting me somewhere on a Sunday because she “KNEW” my people did church on Sunday. This is a message to that despicable old woman (now dead) who once asked me while I worked on a summer job during college, what I thought about Dr. King trying to make it in a white man’s world. It’s a message to the old white man (also dead) who asked me if I believed in emptying the garbage before agreeing to rent an apartment to me. It’s a shout out to all of you (and those of you still vertical know who you are), including the high school gym teacher who insisted I could never learn to swim because Neeeeeegro bodies can’t stay afloat. I could save her in the water today. Would I? So when you ask yourselves why we are or why I am the way I am, it doesn’t matter if you don’t get it. As an attractive and well kept and preserved woman, I am also tired of watching fair people try to MAKE racists understand that we deserve. Don’t understand? Who cares? Continue to live your lives in the dark, support Trump, advocate a stupid wall and then put it on your gravestone that you were fair. Why not? Lying is what got you this far.
This is not to let tired African Americans off the hook. As an African American, I know a bevy of weird black folks. Tired of them too. It’s funny how one’s list of associates and friends narrows down to near nothing as we age. Since Facebook is also weird and Mark Zuckerberg admits it, it’s fine with me if anyone who recognizes him or herself, unfriends me immediately.
When an entire race is discriminated against, it becomes a bad habit among the most “have nots” of the race to be quietly envious of those who move on and live good. We worked at living happy and healthy. It’s also a fact that most people don’t like their jobs but work as a means to an end. That is definitely true for many African Americans, particularly if they are not formally educated to own a skill and do their own thing. Fortunately, my parents, while advising us to be careful, also told us to pursue something we like. I did and if it has anything to do with my attitude at 71, I am so glad to have been (as one old friend put it), a grasshopper. I am so happy to have taken the road I took and as long as we are in this weird political state, I am grateful to myself for having preserved my physical appearance (thanks in part to a career in TV) and saved my pennies. Our parents, who admired Dr. King, would be proud of us today and how we have evolved into confident, smart, classy, well preserved African American citizens who will no longer betray the hardships of our ancestors by remaining silent.