The 21st Century Invisible Woman

We are in the sixth month of the year 2020 and it has been a very strange time.

I have been home for over 60 days-since March-and everything in the world has been cancelled. I’d like to thank COVID-19 or the Corona virus…whatever you want to call it. It’s winning this battle.

My daughter just realized last week that she would not be seeing her friends from school in person again for awhile and lost it. She is genetically enhanced, so it takes her a bit of time to understand some things.

Cops are still killing black folks but even more in the open now because they don’t care. If you sit down and realize that one man was the lynch pin to set off all these protests, you want to do some very unkind things to him.

Singers are running around-imitating black culture when it benefits them (Lana Del Rey-“I’m the Ghetto Priscilla Presley”) and pushing them away when it doesn’t. And not shutting up about it when you get called on it.

My youngest child’s father asked me what does it all mean? What do I think of it all? I’ve been in some kind of strange relationship with him for close to 20 years and I said what I’ve always said, “Black folks just sick and tired of being sick and tired.” He finally understood what I was saying.

I’m not going to do a whole…”When I was young…” diatribe because that gets us nowhere. Just know that as a black woman, I was taught to keep your hands where police can see them, answer only the questions they ask you with “Yes, sir” or “No, sir” and never get upset in front of a cop.

Once, when I was maybe 15 or 16, I was at the Mall in Cleveland. I took my 2 year old sister to ride a kiddie merry go round while my mom had her hair done. I was a harmless, gawky girl with big glasses dragging a little chubby kid around with me. I stood in the store by the merry go round and read a magazine. My sister was quiet and waved to me every time she went by.

Then, here comes Officer White Guy. He sees us. He beelines straight to us. We aren’t doing anything. I put the magazine down and stand next to the merry go round.

“You have to leave the Mall, now.” Officer White Guy snaps at me.

I pick my sister up off the merry go round while he keeps chiding me to leave. Even the guy in the magazine store said that I was leaving. I looked at the officer and said, “I don’t understand. She’s just riding and I’m standing here. I haven’t done anything.”

Feeling himself, he pushed harder, “You go now or I’ll arrest you.”

I thought to myself, “Okay.”

I grab my sister and we start walking. He’s yelling at me and asking me where I’m going. I don’t speak, I just move my ass as fast as I can until I can see it. The Hair Salon. I run inside and tell my mom that this cop is telling me I have to leave the Mall. My little sister is on my hip, looking around and wondering where the merry go round is. My mother mumbled something under her breath and slid from beneath the hair dryer.

What I didn’t anticipate were the other mommies and black women following her out the salon-with their hair wrapped in towels, getting touch ups or hair color added-to talk to Officer White Guy. He waited at the edge of the salon and refused to enter.

“What did my daughter do that was so wrong?” My mother asked him.

“Well, I just asked her to leave. She should have left. She can’t be…mumble mumble mumble.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch the end, Officer So and So. What did my daughter do that was so wrong?” My mom pressed. Other black women stood back and crossed their arms on their chest.

Officer So and So didn’t say much and left.

For the rest of the time, I sat in the salon with my little sister, scared to death. This white man-someone that is supposed to uphold the law-came over and basically bothered me for no reason. I mean, I wasn’t doing anything. I was over the age requirement to be in the mall. I guess my crime was being a docile black kid he thought he could boss around.

And that’s what’s wrong today. Officers are flexing their powers and trying to pick out the docile black kid/person to boss around and we are done with it. We are done with all the lies and bullshit. I am so done with telling my kids the same thing my grandparents told me, which was the same thing their great grandparents told them.

We are sick and tired of being sick and tired and we are fighting back.

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I am tired of cops being total jerks and white folks acting like blacks owe them something. You use our culture (or any other culture) until it gets you somewhere and then you stop. Please, don’t even act like that. Madonna infiltrated gay ballrooms faster than Gwen Stefani stole the whole Chola look. I mean, it’s one thing to take a little of this and that, but when I watched Lady Gaga neck popping at the Grammy’s while she stood next to Michele Obama, I thought, “Damn, girl, really?”

And now, this is where we are. You know, I’m watching my friends struggle and try to understand what they can do. How can I help? You want to help? Be yourself. That’s it. I don’t want you to be my friend because of my skin color, I’d rather be friends because we have something in common. But, if there is ever a time you question what you are doing or if you are doing because another person is of a different race…well, you’re a racist and you can kiss my ass.

Don’t patronize me. Don’t pity me. What you fail to see is that we are stronger than this. I mean if we can overcome slavery and we are still here…well think about it. I mean, I aim to be a great horror writer, who happens to be a black woman and a mom. I don’t want to be a black horror writer. That makes no sense to me.

I love the diversity of living in Washington, DC. I love that I can grab lunch with my Latina friends and go for Pho, or meet my friend-an older white musician-and chat about comic books while we drink coffee. I love my Ethiopian neighbor living downstairs that talks to me about planting okra in our garden or how the white woman beneath me trusts us enough to call me (from out of town and caring for her sick mother) and ask me to get her mail. This is my world. I don’t want to see color, but I’m pointing it out because I can.

Go ahead and make your donation to Black Lives Matter. Go protest with the rest of us and get tear gassed. But if there ever comes a moment where you have to question-why the fuck am I doing this? You are probably a racist.

I know, something else will come along and all the bored Hollywood celebrities will flock to it. Black Lives Matter will become something that gets tossed by the way side while the next trend explodes. Our mannerisms and culture will still be copied and nothing is really going to change.

Trust me, I’ve seen this song and dance for the last 45+ years.

And I’m getting tired of being tired.