To-Not-Do, To-Do

It’s a task;
Trying not to be hardened
By the world
You have to live in,
Because there is no other one,
Because there is no other you.

It’s a task;
To not succumb
To ideals that weren’t made for you
Because you weren’t born that way,
Because you aren’t man-made.

It’s a task;
Trying not to listen
To the resonating words
Of your parents inside your head.
Because while they are wise,
Their time has passed
And it is you who has to live
With yourself and
The decisions you make.

It’s a task;
Learning to love yourself,
When all your life you’ve been told
That you’re ugly,
When you never got picked for anything,
Because your beauty wasn’t obvious
Like everyone else’s,
Because your beauty was far inside you.

It’s a task;
Thinking on your own,
Seeking knowledge for yourself,
Instead of being a receptacle
For whatever is distributed
By who knows whom,
Because you know that’s not all there is,
Because you know many things are missing.

It’s a task;
Trying not to explode
When more articles cross your eyes
About why it is not okay
For you to copied while being hated as the original.
Because why does it not look good on me
When I was the one born with it?

It’s a task;
Trying to grasp the truth
That there are some – many –
Who really don’t know
That the darkness still exists,
That it did not disappear
Because many fought and died,
Because many today still die
Despite their desperate fight
To remain alive.

It’s a task;
Trying to raise children
In a world that doesn’t love them,
To explain to other
That we are not other,
That they are not pure
That we are all mixtures
That it is far too late in time
To claim separate onenesses,
That we are all one
And all the same
That the reason we are different
Is because of a made up name.
It really doesn’t exist.
There is nothing
To prove it true,
That beneath our varying shades of skin
Our blood is all the same hue.

It’s a task;
Trying to keep race out of anything these days,
To remain silent
When an other says
“It doesn’t always have to be” about it.
It’s a task to not to talk back,
To change my vision
From what I’ve been made to see.
It’s a task to keep my insides from boiling
Every time I think about anything,
Like if I happen to die prematurely,
It may not, as I have thought, be the result
Of any traffic accident, or a natural disaster,
Or maybe being struck by lightning,
But that it may be the result
Of my skin causing someone to think
I am dangerous,
That my dark hands
Might somehow be conceived
As criminal, as threatening,
That I may not die by accident at all,
But that I may be killed
Because I happened to be born
The colour of the earth.

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My List of Worries

I’m going to publish a list for the first time and that is because this particular list is very important. It’s all the things that have me worried right now. I’m not sure how long this list will be because I’m usually worried about several things without even knowing it.

  • My current relationship

It’s my first real one and it’s long distance and I’m worried that I might be settling and also that I might mess it up and that my dad won’t like him even though I really do. I mean my mom and sisters already know him and I’ve met his mom, and sister, and one of his brothers, and I think two cousins, and one other relative, but he hasn’t met my dad and that has me worried a little. Also it’s long distance. Enough said.

  • The whole God/religion thing

Well, as you know, I’m not really into my religion anymore and I don’t really plan on going back. The thing is, even at my age, I’m very impressionable and small things make a big impact on me. The other day I somehow stumbled upon this group on Facebook that was all about astronomy and zodiac signs and Egyptian gods and goddesses and black people being kings and queens and these people really freaked me out. So did these twins I follow on Instagram who claim to be followers of Rastafari but who were doing a yoga thing and talking about mythical and Egyptian gods and I just couldn’t for the life of me understand how Rastafari and ancient Egyptian theology went together. And then there’s Jesus…I’m going to stop here now.

  • Race

I’m Black and from the Caribbean and currently residing in America. There’s a lot going on here concerning Black people and White people and the history between those races – a history I’m not familiar with and that I’m not sure I want to become familiar with but that I think is my responsibility to know about. I was wondering today if God brought me here to learn about American Black history and do something big here for Black people – very unlikely I know, but you never know, maybe I might surprise myself and do something on a large scale without intending to. Basically I’m just scared right now and a bit confused and I’m feeling small and like I should know more than I do so that I can do something, but I’m scared of finding out what there is to know because then I might have to do something and I really can’t have my conscience riding me any more than it already is. And how do I, as a Black, Caribbean person, relate to people of other racial, ethnic, and geographical backgrounds who have no idea at all what the people of my race go through? How do I talk about it with them? Should I talk about it with them? I don’t, because I don’t know how. I don’t know how they’ll take it. I don’t think they’ll understand. I think it will just be really uncomfortable and so when I want to talk about these things I have to wait until I’m in the company of Black people, and only Black people, which is also not very comfortable. Again, I’ll stop now.

  • Learning

I want to stay in school – no not really, but I want more than one masters degree. I want to learn and do a lot of things and it really helps if I receive formal education in those things. The thing is I don’t have a great storage room somewhere filled with money that can finance all of this and I don’t particularly like the idea of being buried in loans after I finish all this learning that I want to do… So that’s that. I might not do it because, okay it’s highly likely that I won’t do this because of the lack of finances, which will also inhibit my trip to Europe, and Korea.

Okay the list was not as long as I thought it would be, but it’s a pretty comprehensive list which has very much to do with the very low moods I’ve been experiencing lately. Added to this is the always present I should exercise more and eat healthier thing, take better care of my hair and skin, read more bla bla bla.

So how’s your night going?

Should I Join the Bandwagon Too?

The thing is, I’m not from here. I know that’s a cop out, but that seems to be something I’m good at; copping out. Forget that my twenty-first birthday was just a few short weeks ago and that I’m legally an adult and whatnot, because in spite of that I’m still just a very scared little girl.

I come from a country where the majority of people look like me. There is a sprinkling of white people, a sprinkling of people from Asia, and a sprinkling of people from India. Besides that the rest of us are all black, different shades of black mind you, but black nonetheless. Now I am in a place where there are so few of us (blacks) that I sometimes count how many I see, that once I spent a whole day out and only saw one other than myself. A sea of white people is what I call it. I’m in a sea of white people.

In Jamaica, our motto is “Out of many, one people.” We are taught in school about the voyages of Christopher Columbus; the fighting that there was over the Caribbean Islands among the British, Spanish, French and Dutch; the extinction of the original people who inhabited the Islands; and the Atlantic Slave Trade and how it brought West Africans to the Caribbean and North America. We learn that it is the mixture of all these peoples and their intermingling with each other that accounts for the different shades of our skin and textures of our hair, and that it is a mixture of the languages of these peoples that account for the dialect we speak.

We know about slavery. It happened to our forefathers, in our land, but they fought, and they were freed. We were a colony of Britain, but we gained independence. That was a long time ago. There are no white people whipping us anymore. There were no white people stopping my mother from buying a house, or my sisters and I from going to school. They were all in America and Canada and England. They weren’t with us. Sure. Every February we got reminded of what they did to us and we got angry and we hated them, but they were all in America and Canada and England. We never saw them. I never saw them. As time went on some of us realised that it didn’t really make sense to keep hating these people because of something their forefathers did to ours such a very long time ago. We began to forgive a little. We considered them somewhat as friends.

I’m in America now, the land of the white people, or rather the land that the white people stole (I learned that once I got here), and, again, it doesn’t really make sense for me to hate any one of them because of what I learned growing up. Firstly, as far as I know, none of them have blacks as slaves right now. The white people who actually did that are all dead. Secondly, I work and go to school with white people and they’re really nice. I have no reason to hate them. But then things like Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown happen – and those are the only two names I know because I never followed these stories in the news. I stopped watching the news several years ago. You can take a guess as to why. Apparently killing black people is something that is done here. And it’s fine. As long as you’re white, you can get away with it.

How the heck is that fine though?

Since coming here I’ve heard the word “diversity” a lot. I’ve seen it. I’ve heard it talked about. Apparently it’s something good and it’s something to be celebrated. It’s people from different backgrounds coexisting with all their differences, appreciating those differences, and using them to work toward different, or the same, goals in harmony. Everyone is valued.

Except that’s a lie. I’ve come to realise that a lot of the things being taught to large populations are lies. Just from things I happen to hear or read, because that’s how I come by most of what I know: it is less likely for someone to get a job if that someone has a black sounding name; out of a black and white man of similar build and facial features applying for the same job, both having extremely similar resumes and behaviour, the white man having a criminal record, it’s more likely that the white man will get the job; young black men get followed around all the time by cops, young white men don’t. I don’t really care to list all the injustices or wrongs that have been done to people of African descent by the hands of this nation, but I’m scared, uncomfortable then, knowing that some system is in place that is trying to kill me and everyone else like me. Some system is in place that is feeding and take care of white people. This is despite all the talk that we’re living in a new age of diversity and whatever else is being said that makes it look like non whites and whites are equal all of a sudden.

The truth is, in Jamaica there are corrupt police officers too. They kill poor, innocent youths and plant evidence to make it look like the innocent are guilty. They work on behalf of politicians that are less than upright. It’s unfair and it’s something we have to live with. However, something like that being done on such a large scale, as it is being done in this country, with what has gone on in history between the white race and the black race, with what has gone on between the white race and all other races, looks very different. I don’t know what to call it or what adjective to use to describe it; I don’t want to, but it does look drastically different. And I’m scared being here knowing that even though there are a lot of nice white people, there are still some who are trying to kill me and everyone else that looks like me, who are trying to kill everyone who is not like them. How am I supposed to respond to sketches and cartoons portraying the fear that black American mothers have for their sons? I can’t even relate well to black people in this country because their history is not the same as mine though we have in common the enslavement of our people. I feel like I have to now take on a history that does not really belong to me and live with this problem that is so large and present and I have absolutely no idea how I am to do that because if it was up to me I’d just close my eyes and have it not be there.

I usually refrain from speaking about things like this because of how uncomfortable they are for me and also because I know I am largely uninformed. I don’t think I should open my mouth and speak about something I know nothing, or very little, about. I’m only saying something now because I’m scared. It’s sad that I’m writing this out of fear but, unlike most of my fears, this one seems to have some ground on which to stand. Being a woman doesn’t save me from certain things like one would think. We get hurt in all the fighting too. We also get beat up. We also get shot. We get raped. We get killed.