Brenda: Hey girl, how are you? I haven’t seen you in some years!
Random Woman: I know! It’s been a long time.
Brenda: Yes it has, by the way, let me introduce you to my friend, Eva.
Random Woman: (Very dry, cold and nonchalant) Hey Eva.
Random Woman: (Directly addressing Brenda) Ooh Brenda, your little girl is so pretty, how old is she?
Eva: (PISSED) That’s MY child!
Random Woman: (Slightly Embarrassed but still chilly) Oh, I’m sorry, she just looks more like Brenda to me.
Eva walks off with child (ME) in tow.
Yes friends, my mother, Queen Diva Lady Eva, was tee’d off!
Why, you ask?
Because ‘Ms. Random Woman’ assumed that I was Brenda’s daughter based solely on the fact that we shared the same skin complexion.
She never thought for a moment that I could belong to my mother–who was a shade or two darker.
It simply didn’t occur to her to ask.
Sadly, this type of attitude was nothing new to Mama. As a child, she had received whippings from a lighter skinned uncle for being “too black.”
Prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group–Oxford Dictionaries
What the Oxford folks failed to mention is that this phenomenon is a ‘carry-over’ of Slavery; having been birthed from the actions of slave owners.
In essence, slave masters created division among their chattel by treating them differently based on skin complexion.
The darker slaves were treated far worse than the lighter slaves. Because of their color, dark skinned men and women were forced to engage in heavy labor while the lighter skinned slaves were treated better–relatively speaking.
Naturally, the lighter skinned slaves were told that they were superior to their melanin rich brothers and sisters and both groups bought into that belief.
And there we have it!
A lifelong mutual animosity between darker slaves and lighter slaves…which sadly continues with their descendants today–albeit to a much lesser degree.
Let’s re-evaluate the scenario that I offered at the beginning of this post.
Notice how dismissive Ms. Random Woman was toward my mother.
She all but ignored her darker skinned ‘sister.’
‘Ms. Random’ never imagined that chocolate Ms. Eva could be the mother of a caramel colored daughter with long pony tails.
Of course, at the age of 3, I was too young to notice or understand the larger implications of this woman’s attitude.
I had no clue what was really going on.
Little did I know, I would continue to experience some form of this lunacy throughout my life as my father’s racial identity was, to the average onlooker, perplexing… to say the least 🙂
Lord, I got all kinds of questions like, “Is your Dad Mexican?”
And everything in between….
Oh, and then there were the really stupid questions like:
How did your Mom get a handsome man like your Dad?
Ok, that’s when I got rowdy!
All bets were off!
Seriously? What do you mean?
Do you not realize that you’re talking about MY MOTHER?
You better back the hell up!
I’m sorry guys but that mess really got under my skin!
Oh and if you think things got better as years passed…
My Mama often recalled a time when an associate of my Dad’s came by to borrow a drill.
Apparently, he peeked past my Mom, who had answered the door, in order to get a better glance at me and whispered, “That must be Jim’s daughter.”
Mama said, “Yes, and she’s my daughter and we have a son too!”
What an idiotic thing to say!
“That must be Jim’s daughter.”
It rolled right off his ignorant ass tongue without a bit of thought attached to it.
The fact that he knew that my parents had been married for 100 years added insult to injury!
Ah…but here’s an even more egregious example.
One day, back in 2012, I had been sitting in the hospital room with Mama for most of the morning.
Well, this black nurse, who had been in and out, and who had seem me sitting there the whole time, asked, “Has any of her family come by yet?”
What the hell do I look like?
Of course I didn’t say THAT but I did say, “Well I’m her daugther.”
Naturally, the nurse apologized.
I thought to myself….Here we go again…after all this time.
Still dealing with issues of color.
Mama caught hell for being too dark and Daddy caught hell for being too racially ambiguous.
Inspiration for this post came from comments between myself and these great bloggers:
**Alternate title: One of 10,000 random stories wandering around my limbic system.
In my neck of the woods, the Caduceus, pictured above, is associated with all things healing, health and medical.
Notice the two snakes intertwined around the Greek God Hermes’ magical winged staff.
Ah, but pretty much everywhere else in the world, the Rod or Staff of Asclepius represents the aforementioned concepts.
While I refuse to engage in an exposé on the origins, confoundings and controversies surrounding these two symbols, I should, at least, acknowledge that the Staff of Asclepius depicts one snake on a rod–sans the wings.
Yes, babylove Google is a helluva drug!
Get into it!
Anyway, for clarity’s sake, I ask that you forget everything I just told you about the Staff of Asclepius and focus your attention solely on the Caduceus.
Because, the Caduceus is the symbol I wanna talk about 😉
In fact, it is the symbol that I associate, not just with my pediatrician–Dr. Bennett, but also with cheeseburgers, Sears, and pecan caramel chocolate cluster candies–in that order 😉
What the hell?
Let me explain.
When I was a child, my pediatrician’s office was housed in a tall brick professional building that sported a large silver Caduceus on the side.
And, believe it or not, whenever I spotted that magical symbol, my senses would come alive!
Oh yes, it was, indeed, Pavlovian and you, I pray, are about to understand why.
Let me continue to explain.
You see, as soon as I saw the Caduceus from the parking lot– my memory would perk up and I could immediately ‘see,’ in my mind, my dear Dr. Bennett’s handsome smile.
I could ‘hear’ him say, “Hello Gwin, how are you?”
But, best of all, I could ‘smell’ then ‘taste’ the cheeseburgers that Mama and I would, no doubt, eat in a small diner located on the first floor of that building.
Let the mouth watering begin!
Oh, but the fun didn’t end there!
I thought about how immediately following our double date with the cheeseburgers, Mama and I would walk down the street to Sears to buy a bag of pecan caramel chocolate cluster candies– which we’d nibble all the way home.
Remember friends, I experienced all of this before we could step foot into the building for my appointment.
Oh, I can hear you guys asking, “Lady G, what the hell is the point to this story?”
To that I say, “I’m not sure…Do we need one?”
But isn’t it interesting that a symbol that was meant to represent ideas of healing and medicine could be hijacked by the senses to represent things that are completely unintended like cheeseburgers and chocolate candy?
Our world is highly personalized, don’t you think?
And, on that note, Lady G never looks at a Caduceus without craving a damn good cheeseburger and some chocolates.
What say you about symbols- hijacked or otherwise?
***For all of those who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
Today, I learned that my friend Paula’s mother passed away a couple of days ago.
If you haven’t already please take a moment to click on this link to show your support for her at this difficult time. After you click on the link, look for a post entitled “Grief.” In that post, Paula shared about her mother’s love of music. She also shared a video of one of her mother’s favorite songs.
Naturally, after reading the post, I offered my condolences and shared that my mother, who is deceased, was also a huge music fan. I told her that I can vividly remember Mama playing records and singing when I was just a toddler.
At first, Mama sang to me.
Then I found my own voice and began singing back to her.
One of the first songs that we sang together was “Someday We’ll Be Together” by Diana Ross and the Supremes.
I haven’t played that song since she passed away because I knew it would be way too painful if I ever did.
But tonight, in order to show solidarity for my friend in her loss, I will listen to it for the first time since Mama died.
So, for all of you who are missing someone who has made their transition. Please find solace in knowing that we will all be together again–someday.
Ok, let me hang on to my integrity by admitting that I never learned the dog’s real name.
That said, he will forever be known to me as “Blackie.”
Anyway, many long years ago, when I was about six or seven, Mama would take me to my bus-stop every morning to catch the bus for school. Honestly, the stop was very close to where I lived—but it was at the top of a rather steep hill. Mama thought it would be better if she drove me to the stop in the mornings; that way I could start my school day looking nice, fresh and clean.
She said, “I’ll take you in the mornings so you won’t have to go to school all sweaty– looking like a field hand.”
And with that, a deal was made, Mama would drive me to the bus-stop in the mornings but I would walk back home each afternoon.
Well, the first couple of days, my walk from the bus-stop was rather enjoyable; I liked the independence of it all. Besides, I didn’t have far to go and it was completely downhill. This was going to be a breeze! No problems!
The deal between me and Mama worked out fine!
Until it didn’t.
One day, as I was making my usual trek home, I came upon a little black dog who started barking at me from a yard across the street. Naturally, this startled me since I had never seen him before. At any rate, although I was startled, I was not afraid because I had been raised in a home with all kinds of dogs. In fact, my Dad rescued and trained hunting dogs. That said, a barking dog was a non-issue to me.
By the way, you can read more about me, daddy and our dogs here.
Anyway, as I was saying, I wasn’t scared, but I was on guard so I did my best to quietly walk past the dog’s ‘dominion.’
When I got home, I didn’t mention this to Mama, because, after all, apart from all the loud barking, the dog had kept his distance.
Until he didn’t.
The next day, after I got off the bus and commenced to walk home, I noticed that same little black dog in his yard barking like he was one of my Doberman Pinschers. Again, I was startled but not too concerned so I just looked straight ahead–kept my stride and walked past.
Friends, the next thing I knew, that little joker had crossed over to my side of the street and had begun biting at my heels!
And we were off!
Me and the dog–both ‘flying’ down that hill like two bats out of hell!
Y’all I was in a race for my life! In fact, I was sprinting so fast that I could barely stop myself!
You may recall that I was coming down a steep hill. A steep hill that, by the way, ran perpendicular to a busy thoroughfare.
Had I kept running, I might have crossed directly into the path of several cars.
Good thing I was able to stop and catch myself!
Needless to say, by the time I stopped, I was totally breathless and scared out of my wits!
When I looked down, I noticed that the little black dog (whom I later named “Blackie”) had already turned around and was making his way back home.
After somewhat gaining my composure, I walked the last few yards home. Mama was standing there as I entered the house through the kitchen.
Having noticed how disheveled and discombobulated I was, she asked, “What’s wrong with you?”
I said, between wheezes, “A dog chased me home!”
Mama asked, “What dog? Where?”
I said, “Up Wycliffe Street.”
Mama said, “Come on let’s go!”
And with that, me, Tack and Mama jumped in the car!
Mama drove up Wycliffe and said, “Show me the house!”
I pointed to “Blackie’s” house.
Mama pulled up into Blackie’s yard, parked and said, “Y’all wait right here!”
Folks, Mama got out of the car, strutted up to the front door and started knocking like she was the Chief of POLICE!
Within a minute or so, a man came to the door and said, “Can I help you ma’am?”
Mama spotted Blackie standing behind the man and said, “Your dog chased my daughter home. She almost ran into traffic! Now look, she gon’ have to walk down this hill everyday after school so you gon’ have to keep that dog in the house!”
The man said, “Ma’am I’m so sorry about that. I’ll make sure he stays inside when your little daughter comes by.”
Mama thanked the man, bid him a fond farewell, got back in the car and drove us home.
The next day when I passed “Blackie’s” house I noticed that he was not in the yard barking but he was peering at me through his front window.
I imagined him saying, “You so lucky I ain’t outside!”
All jokes aside, Mama was bold! You have to remember, this all took place in Georgia in the early 1970’s and “Blackie’s” owner was an older White man. At that time, most places in the South were newly integrated so Mama, who was only about 29, was gambling with her life when she decided to approach that man about his dog.
But, as they say, don’t mess with a Mama bear’s cubs!