White Mama, Black Daughter; Fierce or Invisible
I asked her if maybe today was just an off day on the bench. Then she remembered, one of the girls did talk to her today.
The little girl told her she couldn't have two friends.
My baby asked me if I wanted half her cookie because it might make me feel better.
How fitting to look over my shoulder in the rear view mirror and see her snapping a heart in half.
Half a broken heart cookie doesn't fix this hurt, because I wanted to believe it wasn't real.
All my life, until now, I have believed in some way or another, because I didn't live it, that it wasn't really real.
My little girl is invisible to her team.
She's not WNBA material at 7, but her skills are at least as good as any other girl on that team.
My daughter isn't invisible.
My daughter is black.
But they may as well be the very same thing.
This is the thing that is driving me to become her very fierce mama.
When I asked around about my experience this morning, my moments of did I really just see this very subtle "acceptable" racism, I got three answers.
1. Yup, I've seen the very same thing happen to her at a different time and setting.
2. Yes, I see it. It's real and it's sad.
3. Well, she has a "big" personality and that can drive people away...
That combination made it solid for me.
Yeah, my girl does have a huge personality, and she will unleash it on you, but only if you are one of the few that she trusts. For the rest of the world, she is shy, quiet, polite, well mannered, kind, patient, all the things you would want your child to grow to become, and yet, it doesn't serve her well. In some weird sick twist it makes her even more invisible.
My girl isn't invisible.
My girl is black.
Being black isn't her fault. It should not be her punishment.
But it will be.
Driving home today I realized, it doesn't matter how good she is on the court. She can match the white girls, skill for skill, but they can't see her or respect her or befriend her.
No wonder black women become a force to reckon with as adults.
My girl will have to have skills, at anything, that are double or triple her white female peers to even begin to be noticed at an equal level.
For her entire life, she is going to always have to work harder and be better. Not just the "women have to work harder than a man to get the same notice or praise or prize as a man", but as a black woman she is going to have to pour out an effort that is so far beyond that, I am speechless thinking about it.
I would never begin to claim that I understood what it is to live life as a black woman. Over my life, I've respected them in a way, kept my distance to be sure, feared them definitely.
All of a sudden though, I see them differently.
Hell, I'm struck by the fact that in our present day world, where "that sort of thing doesn't still happen" I am fully aware and recognizing that until now, I have always thought of it as us and them.
Where I used to see something I couldn't identify or didn't want to identify, I now see a fierce strength. I see warriors. I see survivors.
I can honestly say I now see something in a black woman that I can respect more than I can say.
I have a few white women friends that have adopted black daughters.
They are fierce women, a force to be reckoned with.
Not one of them is going to let their daughter grow up being invisible to anyone.
I'm not going to let her grow up being invisible either.
She is black.
She is amazing and beautiful and fierce.
And those little porcelain princesses, well, they're a dime a dozen and they are the one's missing out. If they could see beyond her brown skin, they could befriend an incredible little survivor.
I doubt the tears I shed today over my "invisible" black daughter are the last ones on our journey to being fierce, but they are the last ones to come with the sense of shock over the level of acceptable racism and bullying.
Or maybe, none of this is really real. Maybe it's just kids being kids. Maybe it's a hypersensitive paranoid mama with a mixed race family fishing for a reason for the treatment her child received. Maybe she asked for it or had it coming. Maybe she deserved it or brought it on herself.
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By Lisa Owen