White Mama, Black Daughter; Fierce or Invisible


Good or bad for all of you, I process the events of my life pen to paper here in this space.

This one might be long and winding, jumbled and brutal. I'm pretty certain it won't be for the faint of heart.

My daughter is 7 and I am just beginning to fully realize the extent of what it will be, to be her mama for life.

I am being forced to see things in the world that I always thought I saw but never really did.

I am being forced to become a fierce woman.

I have experiences now, with my daughter, that other people don't believe actually happen, because "that doesn't happen in America anymore," because "people aren't like that anymore."

I witness things with my own eyes that I literally can't believe are actually happening. I can't believe they are happening and happening to my daughter because of the above sentences. I have believed those phrases for most of my life.

When I start asking around to friends and listen to their responses to what I tell them I think I might have seen or experienced or lived, their answers almost force me to believe I never should have doubted my experience in the first place. They simply give me the kinder, gentler, more appropriately Christian-ized version of "that kind of thing really doesn't happen." It's code for "you're being paranoid".

So, either I'm crazy-which is possible and I'm investigating that just to make sure I'm not cracking up in the mind-or, what I think I'm experiencing is actually what is really happening right before my eyes to my daughter.

I'm not typically the sports parent in our pair here at home. I don't do a lot of the practices or games and if I do get the tap for that, I am a drop off and come back sort of parent. I like to trust in the coaches and kids and other parents that they will be kind and reasonable and all of that. I like to let the kids have small doses of "safe" spaces to test out their independence.

Today was the first time I had parent duty at my daughter's basketball game.

In our church.

In a Christian sports organization.

Come as you are.

This is the place I am being forced to learn to be a fierce woman.

If those big brown eyes hadn't been locking with mine all through the game I would have walked out, locked myself in a bathroom and bawled my eyes out.

Instead, I blinked. I bit my tongue. I gave her the thumbs up.

I gave her smiles and eye contact.

To me, she is not invisible.

I confirmed that she is real and does exist and was in fact part of that team and playing well.

By the end of the game and the end of the coach's post game wrap up and the end of the snack passing out, I wanted to stand on a table and scream at those little porcelain princesses and their prissy mama's and all the other stereotype groups of people I suddenly saw all around me.

I didn't.

I took my baby by the hand and walked away from the group with her. I knelt down on the floor and looked at her face.

This is supposed to be fun. It should have been a happy, excited face. It was sad and quiet and looking at the floor, not at me.

I asked her a question, "Do any of the girls on your team ever talk to you?"

She just kept on looking at the floor and shook her head, acting like she was in trouble or had done something wrong.

I asked more questions. She kept acting like she had done something wrong.

"Do you ever get to sit with any of them on the bench or do you always sit by yourself?"
"Do they always squeeze 2 girls to a chair so they don't have to sit next to you?"
"Do they always turn their back to you and put their heads together like that whispering and not including you?"
"Do any of the coaches ever notice you are the only girl watching the game from the bench?"
"Does the coach always stand in front of you, so you can't see the game?"

She just quietly put on her pants and coat, picked up her snack and water bottle and asked if we could go.

In the truck she said once in a while one of them will smile at her and sometimes they let her sit with them. She explained all this to me with that hopeful voice that left me wondering if she was trying to convince herself or me that it wasn't so hard.


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