Whew. Here we go. Before 2020 everyone was saying this is my year. 2020 is about to be LIT. Hot girl summer all 2020. 2020 is going to be the best year yet. Baby!!! We were all wrong. 2020 has come in here and put the brakes on for everything we had planned. But isn’t that life. This has become a year of reckoning. There has been so much controversy and unrest. And in particular this year has brought the issue of race to forefront of all of our minds. As a black woman and a black mother I simply cannot get it out of my head. For more reasons than one so I’ll share them with you.
First thing I’m dealing with is the issue that people literally, still, have issues with the color of a persons skin. Skin that they did not themselves choose. This is mind blowing to me as a person who is very open minded and was taught to love everyone. Let me start with an explanation of Melanin. Melanin is a natural skin pigment. Hair, skin, and eye color in people and animals mostly depends on the type and amount of melanin they have. Special skin cells called melanocytes make melanin. Everyone has the same number of melanocytes, but some people make more melanin than others (WebMD, 2019). This source is reviewed by an actual doctor for those questioning credibility. Now based on this definition I find that we are ALL exactly the same. We all have the same amount of melanocytes, mine just might have gotten a little happy and made a bit more melanin. So here I am, a brown woman. Your melanocytes decided to chill and just hangout, so there you are, really really really light brown. If you tan you’ll get more brown. That’s melanin. We ALL have it. I don’t really think I could make that any simpler. We are ALL the same.
Okay, my next thing. My fiancé and I were scrolling through the world of TikTok and he gets to a video of a white male trying to explain what it’s so hard “not to be racial”. So he started off saying that it’s so hard not to be racial because of BET channel, and Black History Month, and the protests and marching, etc. we’re shoving it down their [white people] throats My first correction is that he meant ‘racist’, he meant it’s hard for him to not be racist. One month out of 12 infuriates him, one channel out of hundreds infuriates him. For some reason, for some people this is just too much. It’s too much to fathom that a group of people would want to just be treated fairly. How in 2020 we still have to have a conversation about this. I have a patient at work that is 91 years old and she said to me, “I remember so long ago fighting for this, I can’t believe we have to do this again.” Me either, sis! If you are someone who says racism doesn’t exist or things aren’t bad for POC, I want to do an experiment with you that the great Jane Elliot did as well. Wherever you are, if you are not a POC I want you to be very honest with yourself right now: Raise your hand, if you would like to be treated the way society treats black people. I want you to meditate on that. Would you want to be a POC and be treated the way society treats us? Dig deep. If you didn’t raise your hand you acknowledge there is an issue. What are you doing to help?
Let’s get into my personal experience as a woman of color. My entire professional career as a physical therapist assistant and rehab director I have worked in long term care. I love this setting and I love working with geriatrics. When I tell you this brown skin is a blessing and a curse at times I mean it. But I will explain. When I walk into a patients room, a black patient and I tell them I’m the therapist and I’m the director I’ll be getting everything set up, the comfort that comes into their eyes is amazing. The proudness I can see they feel hits me in my soul. A generation that often times has distrust for white physicians or caregivers due to past experiences. Now, walking into a patients room to do the same thing and someone asking me for clean sheets and when the bathroom will be cleaned before even asking who I am; that’s been my experience with many of my white patients. So accustomed to a woman of my color only doing those tasks. And when I introduce myself, tell them their housekeeper will be in soon and I’m here to begin therapy services the look in their eyes; that’s the curse. The light that leaves their eyes because how dare this black woman not be here to clean my soiled linens and bed pan. It really is a shame. Especially hearing the remarks they make when I leave the room and I know I have to still “be professional” and treat them. I always hold my head high, but that look, that feeling is one you don’t forget. In my years of working in long term care I have had many wonderful patients, amazing families come into my departments and love me regardless of what color my skin was. I’ve had more good experiences than bad and I am thankful. I’ve had mean, rude people of all colors. The difference is when you mistrust me simply because of my skin. But my wish is that my children never have to experience that. My wish is that my sons always bring a light to people’s eyes regardless of the beautiful, brown skin he wears.
I’ve had many friends and associates reach out me and express that they are standing in solidarity with me. I’ve had other moms reach out to me and ask, “how can I talk to my kids about this issue”. The list goes on. And for those people I am thankful. Some of the messages received even brother me to tears. Conversations I’ve had with friends have been wonderful. I have friends of all colors as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs. We’re an open and honest group and we’re mostly all parents so we connect on all levels. And that’s what this issue needs: connections and conversations. Honest conversations. Mama’s you can absolutely change the trajectory of this racial divide with the way you are raising your children now. They can be the generation to turn this thing around for the world. They can make this better.
For my mama’s that are women of color. Be encouraged. Please stay strong. Most importantly I want to mention to you to teach your babies love as well. Love for all people. All white people are not racist, all white people are not inherently bad just like we are not. Racism exists in all cultures and we all have a duty to our children to teach them to be better. Have honest conversations with your kids about what’s happening now, what happened in the past, but explain them what the future can be. For mama’s that are not of color we need you to teach your babies that we are not the enemy. We are not violent, mean, aggressive people. We love like you do. We bleed like you do. We want safe neighborhoods for our kids just like you do. Find friends that don’t look like you and make it a conscious choice to reject ignorance and learn what you can about us in a genuine way. We are more alike than we are different I can promise you that! I’m a firm believer that moms can make the biggest difference.
Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible. -Maya Angelou
If you want to know more about your melanin or lack thereof here’s a link! The more you know the more you grow.