As I sat in a semi truck somewhere between Wisconsin and Chicago on a freezing
January night, refusing to move out of the warmth of the sleeper, I began swiping
through movies on my Showtime Anytime app. I was bored, and sick of being
surrounded by snow and freezing wind gusts. I needed a good movie to take me
away from it all. I’d ignored the movie Green Book for over a year now, not
wanting to see the cruelty and hatred displayed towards my people. But tonight,
my inner monologue said, “Let’s give it a try. If anger begins to stir up, we’ll turn
it off. Deal?” “Deal,” my reply to myself.Instantly, I developed tunnel vision.
I could kick myself, not really, for waiting so long to watch it.
My eyes and ears were fixated on this brilliant film with its magnificent actors.
I hung onto every moment and every word. Then BAM...this
brilliant soul spilled out a powerful and heart wrenching monologue, “Yes, I live
in a castle! Alone. And rich white folks let me play piano for them, because it
makes them feel cultured. But when I walk off that stage, I go right back to being
just another nigga to them—because that is their true culture. And I suffer that
slight alone, because I’m not accepted by my own people because I’m not like
them either! So, if I’m not black enough, and I’m not white enough, and I’m not
man enough, what am I?!” Pause. Rewind. Replay. Hit me with it again
Mahershala Ali! Then I reflected on how many of us, especially people of color
have undoubtedly felt this way?
Quickly, my mind shuffled through memories. And yes--there it was. Fear -- the
fear of not being accepted -- fear of being alone -- fear of not fitting in -- fear of
being called weird. Which I’ve been called before by a stupid guy because I left
him a poem, written by me, and one long stemmed yellow rose. I never did that
again! But that’s another story for another time. Searching deeper into the
crevices of my mind, my heart began to sink as one revealing conversation
ascended like a blade of grass. A conversation that answered every question I’d
ever had; every question I’d ever been asked.
Before me sat a beautiful soul that I’d admired my entire childhood. She had the
looks, intellect, proper grammar, and vocabulary that often had us scratching our
heads, saying, “Ummm. Yeah, I don’t know what that means.” However, the very
things I admired were the things others despised. How could this be?
Brilliance...Beauty...Black. How can you not love this?! Nevertheless. My cousin
was told repeatedly as a child, “You think you’re white.” You think you’re better
than us.” And I believed it because I remember at times being asked, “Why she
talk like that?”
To be honest I’d said it once or twice. But not because of the extensive vocabulary
nor the proper enunciation of words. It was because of that damn BABY TALK.
“Grrrr!” LOL. “Here she go! She’s going to get her way, AGAIN.” Yes, I was hating
because she got her way with her baby talk. But I still admired and adored her.
Could she have made better choices? Absolutely. If she’d known my admiration
for who she was and how others looked up to her, would that have changed some
of her decisions? Maybe. Maybe not. Still, I wish she’d expressed her feelings
before she’d made life changing decisions. Behind my lens was someone that
had everything. Behind hers, she felt she did not have her blackness; she wasn’t
black enough, she didn’t fit into the black box – the black brand – nor the white
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