That’s right…I am a Black Girl in Maine

Its been a strange day. Today was the last day of girl child attending the program she has been in since she was 13 months old. When she started at the center, over 3 years ago I was teaching part-time and after having spent the first 13 months at home being a very attached parent, to say I was nervous about putting her in daycare was an understatement. Yet very quickly the lovely staff at the center became like extended members of our family, for months they held her while she fell asleep, dealt with cloth diapers, and never once seemed put off with my overbearing ways.

Needless to say in recent weeks it was one of the hardest decisions we made when we had to face the reality that our finances could no longer support girl child staying in their wonderful preschool program. Actually last year we couldn’t afford it but sacrified everything to keep her there in hopes that our work situations would pick up, instead after landing my position last fall, things got worse. A month ago it hit me that we could not continue to live so close to the bone. Yet for the past several weeks, I kept hoping somehow things would work out, that someone would contact either I or the Spousal Unit for a contract position but it didn’t happen.

So we awoke this morning once again reminding girl child that today was her last day, we sent notes to her closet buddies and hope that they take us up on our offer to have some playdates. Truly a sad moment though we may be able to volunteer a few times a month and girl child will be able to go and play with her friends. What is unique about this center is that for being located in Maine which is a really white state, there were other children of color there. In fact her class was about 40% non-white and her closet friend is also biracial. Due to the make up of the school, I have been insulated from the reality of how white Maine is and how that might impact girl child but tonight well…we got the wake up call.

After saying our good-byes this afternoon, we had to rush off to the open house at the new and affordable preschool she will be attending. The new preschool is actually affiliated with the daycare/preschool she has been attending since they are both part of the YMCA but the daycare is a full-time program that runs full days whereas the preschool is only a few hours a week and they are in separate locations. Demographically the folks who send their kids to the full-time program either work or are in school whereas the new program is generally kids who have never been in a program.

So we (that would be me, girl child and Spousal Unit) roll up to the open house, walk in and well lets just say it was um…interesting. Every kid and corresponding parental unit was white, ok its Maine, that’s not the end of the world I say to myself.

Well as I noticed parents glancing at us and not making eye contact I started to get a tad uncomfortable but what really has me writing a rare second post in a day is the fact that girl child being the outgoing character that she is walked over to another girl and started playing, the little girl looked tentative but the child’s Mama looked bothered. She actually at one point grabbed her kid and when I started talking to her looked like she really did not want to respond to me.

Thankfully girl child was oblivious and the woman did eventually allow her child to play with mine, but that scene has me disturbed to my core. As my child went to wander and play some more, I noticed the looks of the kids and parents and it took everything for me to not cry…the Spousal Unit saw the look on my face, the one that generally means I am about to lose my cool and get gutter. Thankfully I did not, instead I brushed it off and put on my best damn snooty voice and held my head high but tonight as I write this the tears fall. They fall as I remember every miserable fucking year I spent as the only Black kid in the class, that was hard enough but at least I went home and saw Black folks.

I cry tonight wondering about our future and how long we will be here, truth is unloading this house would take an act of God so leaving is not an option. It’s funny because tonight I am reminded that Maine is a really white place yet whiteness has so many levels. I generally operate in that space here where I am surrounded by more liberal open types who embrace diversity which while at times as its drawbacks, it generally means folks who if they have beef with me, it’s because I am an asshole and not because I am Black. On the flip side are those who have less exposure to folks from different backgrounds and like tonight it shows.

So I have no idea what the future holds though girl child was oblivious which is a blessing and wants to go back and I have cautiously agreed to try it next week while we explore our options. But tonight I am reminded that I am a Black Girl in Maine raising a Black girl and at times it’s a lonely road.

The evil one, so they believe

I have been staying away from any hardcore discussion of politics since there are so many bloggers that handle it far better than I am capable of…but with the midnight resignation of Van Jones ( ex-green czar) and the hoopla surrounding President Obama’s speech planned for today to the nation’s schoolchildren. I felt it was time to say something.

First off, I have spent the past several days laid up in bed praying what I had was a bad cold and not a raging case of H1N1 which meant I have had a lot of time to watch tv. Kids, Glen Beck is one crazy motherfucker. I actually rented a video of his and tried to watch it, um…anyone who watches that man on a regular basis and believes him is a few brews short of a six pack. (I know rude as hell, but I have to call it like I see it) Personally I see Beck as an entertainer who would switch sides if it meant more pesos in his pocket, he is a stone cold loon and he admits he doesn’t really consider himself a journalist. He is just a loud-mouth ignoramus.

That said, he is as vicious as a pit bull and as fellow bloggers were reporting he scored a victory this round with the resignation of Van Jones. (feel free to Google if you want back story, too tired to get into it)Though I will say this, um,  Mr. President how come I feel there is a pattern you are developing of throwing folks especially Black folks under the bus? Just a question.

Now to the meat and potatoes, as you probably know by now, Obama is planning a speech to the nation’s school children. A nice stay in school, work hard type of message; this sort of thing has been done before by other presidents and while yeah, there may have been a few Democrats screaming it was a waste of tax payer dollars back when a Republican president was doing it, the outrage was nothing like what we are seeing now.

Oh no! I have watched the news, read the blogs and man oh man, there are some folks who really feel that we are gearing up to live under a socialist regime and that Obama will be subliminally sending messages to the kids via this speech. Um, who really drank the kool-aid? Yet when we take a look at the folks yelling and screaming about Obama and his socialist ways, I have noticed an interesting thing except for a few delusional Blacks that are probably hired, most of the folks yelling are white, they tend to look either very Christian or very working class and are quick to say racism is not an issue.

As my Granny used to say, youse a lie! Look Black folks know though our more liberal white brethren try not to admit it but all this talk of socialism is just a smoke screen. Fact is Obama could be less government more business, free Nascar passes to folks and you know what? People would still hate him, you know why? Because he is Black, technically he is only half Black but in America  we still have that unofficial one drop rule and you are Black so in this case he is pretty damn Black. 

The bottom line is Fox News, Glen Beck and all the crazies out there are exploiting working class white folks fear of the unknown..aka the Black man. Guess what? Its working too, these folks are riled the fuck up and I swear any moment I expect RAHOWAto break out because the real truth is the birthers and the townhall nuts fear change by a Black man. In many cases we are looking at folks old enough to remember when all a Black man could do was shine their shoes and now he is the damn president of the United States. Mind blowing I guess, if you are mind is that small.

So I say, quit lying and stop misusing words like socialism, believe me Obama is hardly radical in fact if I had it my way you would indeed feel a touch of real socialism but in this country that will never happen.

Cross cultural communication–I think I am failing

Disclaimer: This post is a reflection of my thoughts, what may be true for me may not be for you so I am going to try not to generalize but this is my perception.

In my early blogging days, I wrote about relationships between Black and White women and today I am revisiting the topic. The truth is that since I was a teenager, I have had very few connections withwhite women. Funny thing is I did not grow up in a predominantly Black setting, I actually spent all of my school days in most instances being the only Black kid or one of only a handful…this would have been in the late 70’s through the 1980’s. So with a background like that you would think I would be pretty comfortable having white women as friends, but the truth is its very hard for me.

I have no bias against white women but at the end of the day, I often feel like we speak different languages. Take child rearing, its a universal thing we as women all do (ok, all women that have kids that is) yet when I speak with most white women even with things like education and class being factored in, I still feel as if I am holding back. Hell, I am actually convinced that with raising kids there is a whole cultural component that plays a large role. Take breastfeeding, I nursed well past what most women do yet in talking with my white friends its still hard to discuss, maybe its me though.  Funny thing is this internal holding back I do only seems to happen with white women. It does not happen with white men, since if it did, I guess the Spousal Unit would be gone by now…though lately we do wonder if race sometimes plays a role in some of our issues these days, but that is another story.

I am not bashing white women because again I have met some who I really do connect with but the funny thing is the ones I connect with the best tend to come from humble roots. There are a few local women I know who come from working class origins though they are not there anymore and they are the ones I definitely feel most comfortable with. Its hard enough for me being Black without having to explain, no that is not a Black thing, its a poor folk or working class thing. Turns out government cheese was eaten by all poor folks though Black comedians would have you to believe its a Black thing, same with kool-aid. As Dave Chappelle joked, Black folks have grape drink…well Dave, there are plenty of white folks who had grape drink too! They just don’t share that as often as poor Black folks do.

A while back one of my truly good friends who lives here in Maine and happens to be white commented on the fact that for the longest time she felt I was really reserved and yet she is glad that we were able to get past our initial tensions where race and class threatened to end our relationship before it ever really began. In this instance my friend is someone who comes from great privilege even with some old money thrown in to really highlight the differences between us yet even now we still have moments where there is the uncomfortable pause.

Sometimes I think maybe its me, but sometimes I know its not me. Take my CSA(community supported agriculture) experience. For what, 5-6 years we have been members of what is essentially a farm co-op, in the early days I used to go with the Spousal Unit to do the pickups, thinking maybe I would get to know some folks. After all if you belong to the same CSA, its safe to say you have some shared interests (healthy eating) well after weeks and months of trying to be friendly with folks and make small talk, I realized it just was not working. I know…maybe folks are just not friendly. I would buy that argument if my white buddies (the two)I know who also belonged to the same CSAhad not made connections with other shareholders at the CSA.

Does my breath stink? Do I look crazy? What’s wrong with me? Its the same with playgroups, when girl child was born before I went back to work, I tried connecting with other Mamas and kids at playgroups. Um…that was a bust. Now the Spousal Unit is in charge of outside park play, I hate being at the park and since small talk with other parents sucks, he can do it.  Of course with the change to our schedules, I will have to try again and I am dreading it.

Now I do well at talking to people of color, folks in a professional setting and older folks but stuff me in a room with white women who are technically my peers and I feel like that awkward 10th grader who never had any dates back in the 1980’s because I was sorta cute for a Black girl (a classmate actually said this to me) but interracial dating wasn’t the thing back then. The only cats who were willing to date me were shifty types or white boys of privilege who hoped I was a easy girl if ya know what I mean? Yet I watched my girls primp and talk about their dates, boyfriends and lives yet basically was sitting on the sidelines.

However as a 36 year old woman who happens to be Black and lives in Maine and isn’t leaving anytime soon, I wonder how can I better connect across racial lines? So if you got any tips help a sista out.