We must take care of ourselves

Today was a rare type of day for me, both the spousal unit and I were not working today, so I had the time to do some serious reading on-line and checking out other blogs. That said, there were several blogs I read by fellow sista bloggers that really hit upon something that has been deep in my spirit since turning 35 earlier this year.

Black women, sistas, we must take care of ourselves. I know personally I have a tendency to put everyone else before me even to the point of causing myself panic attacks. I had my first panic attack at 19, about 6 months after elder child was born. That first attack was so bad, I had to call an ambulance, I just knew I was dying.. after many hours and many tests, it was determined that I was just stressed out. That initial attack set the stage for something that I have lived with ever since.

In the sixteen years since that initial attack, I have had some good years and some bad years, the worse bouts were about 5 years ago this summer when my Moms got the news she had lung cancer, the time from diagnosis to her death was about 8 month and let me just say that during that time I was in full superwoman mode. After she died I was numb but I soldiered on becoming the matriarch of the family at 31, less than 3 months after she died I bought my first house and a few months after that I got pregnant with mini-me. Can you see where I am going with this? Never at any point did I stop and process any of it, I was like the energizer bunny, even after mini-me was born I threw myself 150% into parenting the second time around.

 Well the crash finally came, last year when I was teaching a class, in the middle of a lecture I nearly fainted, I figured it was an anxiety attack so I ignored it. Well, I will spare you all the details but a sista ended up being carried out of the classroom by the paramedics and rushed to ER. More tests, and once again the diagnosis was a panic attack, ended up getting some heavy duty drugs in ER to get me to unwind.

It wasn’t long after that attack at work that life hit me with some changes that made me cool my role as my Granny used to say. I lost my job and in the process of losing a job that sucked the life out of me got a whole new outlook on life. It hit me that I had to start caring about me, don’t get me wrong I love my family and friends but I can no longer give so much of myself that I have nothing for me. As Black women we have a tendency to love hard and sometimes that love is not returned as hard as its given.

How many times have we given emotionally and financially when deep down our spirit was saying hell no? I have done it too many times and I doubt I am alone. Yet how many times do we feel we can call on each other when we are in need? Probably not as often we like. I say this in light of a sista who died alone on a floor in a place that should have helped her. Esmin Green was at a psychiatric hospital in NY and from the reports on the news it sounds like a sista was having troubles, yet when she died alone on that floor, I want to know why the hell she was alone? The report I read said she had 6 kids, belonged to a church; where where the sistas and brothas from the church? Now I am not trying to slam anyone but as another blogger put it and I agree, any of us could be Esmin, as someone who suffers from panic attacks reading her story brought me to tears.

No, this is not right.. sistas not only do we need to take care of ourselves and recognize when we have reached our limits, we gotta take care of each other. As women sometimes we get caught in competition and games but as Black women we need each other, we need each others strength. Maybe if Esmin had had a sista-friend there, maybe she would still be alive but at the very least she would not have died on a cold hard floor all alone.

To many of us have forgotten that once upon in this country the only way to survive was to care about one another, all we had was the strength of our ancestors and each other. We need that once again, sistas we have to to care of ourselves and one another.

Friendships and Race- Black women and white women

Since moving to Maine, I have spent a lot of time by myself, since when I made the decision to relocate 1100 miles away from family and friends it pretty much meant re-starting over as far as friends. Don’t get me wrong I still have some close friends back in Chicago but the one thing that is missing for me here is just some girls to kick it with. Either Sex and the City Style or Girlfriends style since I couldn’t convince any of my friends back in Chicago to move out with me and the family. (don’t know why they didn’t want to come, LOL)

That said, making friends as an adult, plain ole sucks. It sucks even more when you are a Black woman living in the whitest state in America. That said after a few years the realization that if I were ever going to even have any casual grab a drink buddies, that I might need to expand my horizons to include white women has always left me feeling unsettled.

Now some might find the fact that I am not comfortable with white girlfriends a bit laughable especially when you consider that I have a white husband. I will admit maybe I have some deep down prejudice but the truth is that since the age of 17, its been real hard for me to ever get past the casual acquaintance stage with 99% of the white women I meet. The only exception has been my girl “C” back in Chicago, we used to work together in fact she was my boss, she can work my nerves but on some levels she is the only white woman I have met as an adult who is not walking around with that attitude and air of privilege that seems to infect so many white women at an early age.

No, truthfully my experience is that most white women are looking for a “Mammy” to their Scarlett or maybe even a nice warm Oprah to call a friend and this sista is not the one. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t try to be a bitch, I try to give folks the benefit of the doubt but inevitably on some level it just is never a match. That said I know I am not the only sista who suffers from this dilemma, I recently saw Sex & The City, the movie and was down right offended that one of the girls finally gets a Black “friend”. Carrie needs an assistant and hires Louise (played by Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, damn a Oscar winner can’t do better than being a modern day Mammy), interestingly enough I saw this movie with some white woman and while they generally enjoyed the movie, me, I was fuming over how come the helper, the savior had to be a sista?  Super Negro woman to the rescue to help restore the fallen white women, um.. no, at this stage in my life that shit is just not happening. I wanna know where is my Mammy to make it all right?

Then again, I thought about it on a large scale, sistas are often portrayed as being strong women, yet white women can just be human and on some level I have seen that at work in my real life relationships. If and when a Black woman shows emotion, its like folks cannot handle it so we stifle that shit which we all know is a bad bad thing, hello health problems.

Even well meaning white women who try to connect with a sista still get it wrong since even when a white woman is not looking for her long lost Mammy, the opposite end is trying so hard that a sista starts feeling like a special Negro pet project. Yep, I have been there, done that and that too does not work for the kid.

I was thinking about the recent primary season here in America and while there were sistas who supported Hillary, there were those of us who just could not buy into her brand of feminism that her white female supporters were selling..

After all many of the loudest and most ardent Hillary supporters where women who cracked the glass ceilings back in the 80’s while keeping some 3rd world woman of color at home tending to her family. As a young Black woman, what would I have in common with that? Not a thing. Its the reason that for sistas like myself feminism will never appeal to me, at least not in the form most commonly espoused by old skool feminists.

Perhaps white women and black women can one day find a common ground when white women can acknowledge the inherent privilege they have by virtue of being white. Until then I suspect most white women will just be casual acquaintances.

Acting and Talking White

I was reading at another blog today and the issue of acting white came up, I gotta laugh because most of my life I have been labeled by my extended family as acting white. Truthfully when I was young, I probably did go through a phase where I was acting white, I went to predominantly white schools, up until I was in the 5th grade, I was the only chocolate drop in my class.

 Even in high school, we lived on the south side of Chicago but I trekked across the city for high school which most of my classes were with white folks. So to some degree I think it was natural that constantly being surrounded by white folks, that well I learned to talk and act like white folks.

Hell, back in the 80’s I was thumping The Police, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, you get the picture. To further scare my family into beleiving that I was going to be a lifetime member of the confused Oreo club, I started wearing doc Martens, Black trench coats and generally looking a bit strange.

All that said, by the time I hit my late teens race started to be a factor in my friendships/relationships and I met some folks who started me down the path of realizing I was not a Becky and at 17 I read the Autobiography of Malcolm X. That book factored with being introduced to folks like KRS-1, X-Clan and a host of other positive hip-hop really made an impact on me. It wasn’t long after that, that my so-called best friend who was white pretty much grew distant from me and without getting into a long drawn out story, race was an issue. To this day, despite being married to a white man, I hold white women at arms length but that is another post for another day.

I spent the next decade almost, being confused about this acting white shit. See, up until I hit my late 20’s, I never knew too many Black folks who would confess to digging rock music but at the same time being into Miles Davis, Minnie Ripperton, and so on. It was in my 20’s that I finally learned  the art of speaking another language aka switching up the speech. Though somewhere along the way in recent years, my true speech has emerged and at times its the King’s English with a sprinkle of what some might call Blackness, based off a recent conversation I had with one of my Maine white friends who asked me a question and I guess my response was Black since she told me, I sounded Black. Duh, I am Black.

Now in my mid 30’s, yes I am partnered to a white man, yes, I live in Maine, that said if you step out of line and try to imply that I am less than Black, I have no problem checking a mutha and letting you know what time it is.

No, all this acting white shit is just one more smokescreen we as Black folks throw up to divide, kinda like how back in the day every Negro and his brother or sister it seemed was claiming a Cherokee relative as proof they were less Black.

Then again, this is a land that at times has rewarded some of us for being less Black, but at the end of the day whether you got good hair/bad hair or speak white or not the reality is we are all Black folks. Just as there is no one way to be white there is no one way to be Black. That said, there are some self hating Black folks who really don’t want to be Black but generally them folks make it clear what they are about and well them brothas and sistas are not who I am talking.

So if you get that acting white label thrown at you, brush that shit off and keep steppin.