SO LONG, FAREWELL...
Friday, November 16, 2007
So I’m sitting at my desk and then I randomly start singing, “I’m soooo hood…” and then kind of hum the next few lines cause I don’t know what he says after that, something about wearing your pants below your waist and walking it out and you ain’t hood if you don’t know what he’s talking bout. Hmm…so I do know the rest…ok…So then I stopped myself and was like “Rum Punch, (yes I call myself Rum Punch even in my everyday life) you aren’t hood, you are middle class”-and we know this because I used the correct subject verb agreement. Hmmm…but for some reason I’m sooo middle classs just doesn’t have the same ring to it, in a song or in life.
As a young woman who grew up Black middle class, not to be confused with growing up Black bourgeoisie and yes there is a difference. Don’t you just love how we as Black people put each other into categories? So, while I didn’t want for anything growing up (a true blessing), my mama maintained her Revolutionary, Black Power ideologies, so there was no Jack & Jill, no Links, no Boulé, no trips to the Vineyard, no attendance at my mother’s sorority or father’s fraternity conference-mainly because they didn’t pledge, no cotillion (although me being the diva that I am, I begged my mama to let me be in a cotillion but I was met with staunch resistance as my mom reminisced on the discrimination that she and her family faced by her own people-damn Black folk and our brown paper bag tests!). And if you didn’t experience 80% of those references, you didn’t grow up Black bourgeoisie either. But it’s ok. Like the King of Pop sang, you are not alone.
Unfortunately, I have seen many of my fellow middle class brethren fall prey to the ‘I’m sooo hood mentality…’ You know the ones who grew up in a two parent home, went to church on Sunday, did well in school (until maybe about high school) and then suddenly they became ‘hood.’ This led to them actually having to hang in the hood for authenticity and eventually getting tangled into things their parents would have never fathomed. Aaaah yes, the fallen ones. Because growing up Black middle class is some heavy stuff, and I mean literally heavy…I mean it’s like we are carrying the race on our backs with our successes and achievements, stumbles and pitfalls.
For me growing up Black and middle class was about more than my parents’ combined income, it was about exposure and opportunity. My parents wanted my brother and I to have every chance that they didn’t have. This meant that we learned foreign languages at an early age, were taught to love reading, saw plays about our people, were taken to museums just because it was Saturday and had countless other experiences that helped us see the world from a different perspective. We were raised and nurtured around people of a similar mindset, as we attended Kwanzaa celebrations (and other fun family gatherings), church on a regular basis and after school activities like our all Black Scouting troops. In every setting we were surrounded by people who cheered us on, encouraged us at every step and complimented our every success. And because we had received so much, certain things were expected of us. Attending college was a given, getting married before birthing a child was a commandment, joining somebody’s church was an expectation and giving back to the community was something you embodied…
There are many Black folk who have grown up quote on quote middle class and have seemingly strayed away from the values and expectations of their parents, families, community and apparently society as a whole. This Washington Post article really makes you go hmmm, or wtf, or a combination of both… Sometimes it seems that if you are Black and you grew up “regular”: in a two parent household (or just a supportive household for goodness sake), in a house (not a project building), took modest vacations, were pushed to succeed and be the best and were loved by your family, then seemingly, you are in a small minority. I once had a guy who after years of hustling finally got his first 9-5 job say to me, "I'm trying to be square like your father." Is that what going to work everyday, owning a home and raising a family is nowadays, being a square? I'll be that. But I understand how it doesn't make for a catchy song...
Because while you may know all song lyrics related to the hood, you probably can’t really relate to that lifestyle. But there is no song for you and how you grew up. We are not privy to see Black performers, entertainers or athletes recount their middle class lifestyle to the masses, not because they don’t exist but because it just doesn’t sell the b.s. ‘woe is me, I was Black and po’ but I ain’t no mo…’ one dimensional portrayal of Black life. I mean let hip hop and the media tell it (Mr. Bill O’Reilly included), the way I lived is just not real. Even August Wilson said the Cosby Show did not accurately reflect African American life. But I’m sorry, that’s how I grew up. That was African American life for me. That was my world. And I know that for millions of Black kids who are now Black adults, that too was their world. So I say that we Black middle class folk ban together and write our own song for the world to hear…I’m sooo middle class and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
That’s my time y’all! Happy Rum Punch Friday!
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Recently, I can't make up my mind for shit! I'm encapable of picking a lane, deciding on a course, choosing which way to go.
Ok. so doesn't sound so bad does it? but in practice it is the worst.
The past few months I been struggling trying to figure out how I got here... indecisionville, usa. Cause I've been making decisions all my life (and well might I add).
Deciding that I wanted to go to a magnet high school way outside of my neighborhood with a whole new set of (ghetto) kids because i just knew i wanted to be a lawyer. Disappointing my parents and defying my stepdad's challenge ("if you go to that school I wash my hands of you"...i know, tre dramatic) and going to the school I felt was home (one of the best decisions of my life). Even my grad school choice was a cliff hanger for a minute there.... would it be the state school or the ultra expensive but very glamourous top 5 in the city. And I stepped off that particular cliff with confidence (again great move girl!).
Each time i made a turn, I knew that it was the right choice. I had a feeling in my gut that this was the right school, the right profession. I was walking in my destiny even if I was slightly off the target telling myself "jesus would make it allright please make it allright I don't know what this is all about but I'm goin up this ..... " errr
ok you get it. And it was alright. until now...
since I've actually entered the profession a lil over a year ago, all the clear choices have evaporated. i've lost the ability to trust my gut. everything is open and available to me. And nothing feels quite right. So I flounder....I flip and then I wonder if it's a flop.
i constantly second guess myself and each time i'm ready to make a turn, crafted a new plan, a new shiny choice pops it's head up and says hey have you considered me? and i'ma gone on and tell ya'll....i love shiny new choices! i love entering a new experience soaking it up and then jumping onto the next thing. it's like i want to have the new car smell in my life forever.
why you ask? that's the heart of the matter, isn't it? i think it's because i have a fear of commitment, of permenancy, complacency, the norm.
anybody know of a job where i can travel every 6 months, work with kids and splash in some law...holla!
i'm also taking suggestions on life in the comments as well
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
On my train ride home I got to thinkin' about his quote . . . for one I prefer the synonym settle over accept.
"why do we settle and then complain about what we got"
I know of the serial daters (7+ years -- I would have typed 5 [but it seems so commonplace that 7 years qualify as serial dating in this day & age]) where one half of the couple is not happy about the stagnation in the relationship (i.e. gettin' to the next level a la marriage) and its usually the woman.
When I ask "what are you going to do?" a huge sigh lingers in the air and trust me folks -- silence is golden. At that point they don't have to verbally answer because they gave me the answer already -- they're gonna do nothing. But so why get in a funk when 7 years turns into 10?
Not surprisingly, when I talk to the fellas -- I ask "how's the relationship going" and they reply its doing just fine. Clearly there is a disconnect. Sometimes the guy will even acknowledge the funk his girlfriend is in, but to his defense he'll say "I told her I like the relationship as is," and who can get mad at that?
Now when I dig in deeper and I explore why the woman is still in the relationship, this is what I get. . . "I thought we would have been married by now," when or rather why did you think that -- in my mind I'm like he never proposed. And yet I get some super honest souls who reveal that they won't leave because they don't wanna do nothing on their own (this is for the cohabitors) "I don't pay for anything besides my car note and insurance, he pays for everything." OOoohhhh. . . folks are complacent, but that's an honest response so I respect the statement. Then at times I get the super honest comment compounded on top of the honest comment "Ain't no bitch benefittin' from him except me!" Well, I be damned -- so that's what really going on. . . I try not to analyze any further('cuz all the psychoanalysis I picked up from my professors is readily coming to my mind, but I'm semi-justified 'cuz one of my degrees is in psychology). Ain't that some crazy shit???
At the end of the day I call it settling, and if you choose to complain just know you're not justified in your complaining -- as my friend's daddy would say "why he got to buy the cow if you're giving the milk for free."
Now I gotta go catch the train so I'm not late (but you know I'm gonna be a lil' late) for training day part II.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
A couple weeks ago I ran into a dude I went to high school with. He was neither friend nor foe so I was going to act like I didn’t see him. But he decided to say hello and so we got to talking, well gossiping about our former classmates. He told me about so and so who lost their mind in college drinking and “experimenting.” And about such and such who quit her job because she’s engaged to some rich guy. And he, himself was expecting his first child with a girlfriend. So many changes have occurred for some people yet sometimes I feel like I’m in the exact same place I was nearly ten years ago.
These type of conversations get one to being introspective and I began to think about young Amaretto and the person she was. Back in the day, it was so important to get my crush to notice me. So I would plan to accidentally bump into him in the hallway. There was always a plan to smoke and drink at someone’s house when their parents were away. And Friday and Saturday nights were spent cruising the streets in a friend’s broke down car-sanging along with the radio. Good times! But along with the trivial there were plans for what my adult self would do…
I guess this is what getting older is like. Planning, living, revising, reminiscing, wondering, and letting go. This song has been speaking to me lately. It was hot when I was like four and the video’s fashions are quite hilarious. But this British group, Simply Red must have known that folks would be able to relate to the feeling and fear of wasting our limited time…
Don’t get me wrong, I am looking forward to my future and keeping my past where it belongs- behind me. It’s just sometimes I think about young Amaretto who really thought I would have it all together by thirty. Such a lofty, and maybe slight crazy, goal-but even still, I don’t want to fail us. Occasionally I wish time would slow up, but since that’s not going to happen I’ll keep striving during these years to make young Amaretto’s dreams my reality.
See You in Seven