I try very hard not to criticize. I’m not perfect at it, but I definitely put in more effort than most when it comes to seeing two sides of an issue. Or should I say three sides: what’s right, what’s wrong and what’s fair. They overlap, but are never all the same thing. Take the current political climate. It’s a hot mess. There really isn’t any other way to describe it and it’s affecting all of us in some way. And there’s guilt in every party.
A few weeks back I was called a cockroach in the middle of a grocery store – in the middle of the year 2012. What those two older white gentlemen really wanted to say as they eyeballed me over their shoulders, was ‘nigger.’ I knew it. They knew it. I kept my mouth shut. I wasn’t sure whether or not to laugh, cry or scream. How dare they, right? Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but how much should one be willing to take when it infringes on another’s right to be treated respectfully in a public place? Do I let it blur my opinion and vision of white people? No. It’s hard not to, but no. I’m better than that.
A little more detail about my background…
My mother is Black and Choctaw Indian: that’s the simplified version because my great grandparents on my mother’s side were also an interracial couple – my great-grandmother is 100% Native American and my great-grandfather was white.
My father is Egyptian and Irish: simple as that.
I’m named after my father’s mother (a very traditional Irish name), but I retained my mother’s maiden name (they never married). And my middle name is actually Native American, given to me by my great grandmother on my mother’s side. Sounds like everyone was getting along for the sake of an adorable new baby girl, right? Wrong.
There was a war going on between both sides of my family: a racial one. Suffice it to say, I know where my ‘all or nothing’ mentality comes from. Before my birth, my father’s family insisted that they had no proof that the baby (me) was his until they saw me. If I was extremely light-skinned, then I was more than likely his. If not, my mother is a liar. Once I was born – white as a sheet, blue eyes, blonde hair with red tips – they were ready to whisk me away into the desert sun. My mother, of course, would have none of that. My father’s family was simply all or nothing. They despised Africans. Why, you say? They’re Egyptian! A lot of Egyptians do not consider themselves African, despite what geography says. They’re Middle Eastern – and don’t you forget it. That was their mentality. They were going to raise me their way, not acknowledging the other part of my ancestry.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because it’s all getting ridiculous. Being born into the middle of a racial identity crisis was bad enough, but living in one now is just tiresome. I acknowledge all parts of my being – even the ones who decided to abandon being a part of my life because of who/what they think they are. I can say it’s all their loss, but truly, I lost out as well. My father came to see me as a baby (according to my great grandparents, who raised me for the first 5 years of my life and again for 2 years during my mother’s first divorce), but disappeared once my mother showed back up from the Marine Corps. Yes, I come from a military family: my mother, both stepfathers, cousins, uncles. Even a FBI agent and a couple of Secret Service members in there.
My great-grandfather, Julian, taught me how to read and write before I was 3 years old. He called me his “my first name-girl.” I love and miss him very much. I didn’t care that he was white and great granny was black. All people are different and that’s what makes them beautiful. That’s what I was taught. They died within two weeks of each other while I was a senior in college. One refused to live without the other. My great granny was over 90 years old (she never told me her true age – she was 90 every year) and my great-grandfather was in his 80s. They were amazing and I still cry when I think of them. My great grandfather wanted me to be an attorney. He told me that all the time. I know that is where I get my sense of justice from: I have defended people who I didn’t even know, but the situation called for someone to step in. My original plan was college – law school – FBI. Although I decided not to go to law school (I still think about it), I will never deny standing up for something that I believe in or even someone’s right to believe in it. That’s the whole point of living in America, right?
The right to pursue happiness. The right to make choices. The right to get naked for a living. The right to be happy. The right to vote. The right to marry. The right to bear arms. I get it. Why doesn’t everyone else?
I went to a gun range for the first time today. I understand the need and the right to carry guns, have them in your home. I’ve always been petrified of them. But I never once felt that someone’s right to bear arms should be taken away. I had a blast at the range, by the way. I’ll probably do it again soon, but I don’t see myself owning a gun. But I support other’s right to do so.
I guess what provoked this entry was not just my being called a cockroach or going to the range, it’s been brewing for a while. The current justice system that’s trying to tell me what to do with my body is truly pissing me off and I’m stunned that more women around aren’t more outraged. What affects one, affects us all. Just because you have children and adore them, doesn’t mean that another woman should do the same. It’s your choice to have children. I support that. My goodness, how many baby showers have I been to in my life? I don’t know, a lot. Again, that was their choice and it’s great. But your choice is not the same standard for the next woman.
I recently subscribed to a blog: Bedroom Door. It’s about being in the bedroom: fetishes, positions, etc. Fun stuff. I love the idea behind it. But today, there’s a rant about abortion and how wrong it is. Okay. Random in the midst of foot fetishes and edible lubrication. The same freedoms that allow you to openly discuss things of a sexual nature are the same ones that should be afforded to a woman who opts not to carry out her pregnancy. Whatever her reasons, they are her reasons. The minute we allow the government, comprised mostly of men, to regulate our bodies, our blogs will be shut down, our vaginas probed at will, our lives manipulated by the status quo. How can a woman write about sexual affairs/experiences when she’s not capable of making her own decisions regarding contraception or pregnancy? It’s hypocritical.
And to be honest – I am against abortion unless there is a health risk involved, a violent attack (rape, incest) or the age of the mother. We don’t need any more teen mothers. However, I’m pro-choice because my choice isn’t going to be her choice or her choice or hers. It’s an extremely personal decision that is no one’s business but the direct parties involved. And especially not the government.
My first instinct was to cancel my subscription. But I thought about it and realized that she has the right to her opinion and shouldn’t affect how I feel about her blog in regard to her sexual endeavors. It gave rise to my feelings above, though. I like dialogue between opposing perspectives: I have friends on all sides of the political spectrum. It’s tough, but I listen and I comment when I feel it’s absolutely necessary. We can’t pick and choose freedoms based on only our view of the world. We have to appreciate other perspectives too. We don’t have to agree, but we do have to respect each other.
A couple of days ago back at my friendly neighborhood grocer, there was an older white woman who couldn’t reach something on the top shelf. I walked down the aisle, even though I didn’t need anything in that area and got the bottle down for her. It felt good. It made my neighborhood grocery store a happy place again. I’m bigger and better than most people. I don’t hold others responsible for someone else’s poor judgment.
I was raised better than that.
9 thoughts on “3 Sides to Every Story”
It’s so refreshing to find someone else on the planet that knows the difference between argument and debate/discussion on a “hot” subject. I grew up in an atmosphere of “closet” and not so “closeted” racism. I can’t deny that it has affected my outlook on life, but, slowly, I’ve made my way to a much better place where “nigger” doesn’t imply race, it implies an abhorrent attitude. I know it’s been said before by people much more intelligent than I, but stirring up the gene pool can only be a good thing. It’s unfortunate (I only avoid caustic words like infuriating because they are….well………caustic) that people like those you crossed paths with at the store can’t let go of those old boat anchors of small mindedness and racism. My Mother’s Father was very much like them. Until his dying day, his favorite jokes were racial and he called my oldest son his adopted grandson (my [now ex] wife’s son from her first ex) even though he had been my son since he was two. Oh how I wish that I had your grace to see past those foibles while he was alive. My solution to his attitude was to avoid him (as much for my son’s mental health as my own). I’m rambling again, so I’d better stop, lol. Thanks for the great post and the refreshing outlook.
I’m so glad to hear that, Kip. I’m seeing more and more interracial families and I think it’s so beautiful. And to me, ‘nigger’ simply implies ignorance and various people from all walks of life suffer from it. But I have faith…one person at a time 🙂 Hope you’re having an awesome weekend…
Yes, that’s all we can do is work on one person at a time, starting with ourselves 🙂 It’s taken me ages to get back to half the person I always envisioned myself being. And yes, I’m having a great weekend, I hope you are, too!
Wow. This is very intense. Imagine my surprise turning to this, expecting to find out what happened when you finally gave that weasel boyfriend a piece of your mind, or whatever you hit him with.
I have so many thoughts, I don’t know where to begin.
Very deep thoughts about race in there.
I respect your opinions about freedom, although I’d like to debate the second amendment point, a bit. It is not intended or written in such absolute terms in the Constitution.
The exercise of the right to bear arms has a much different impact on other people, compared to the exercise of the other rights you delineate. (Including the right to bare tits. Sorry. I was going to be serious in my comments.)
Can I e-mail you?
Thanks, Mike! As an attorney, I’m sure your perspective is quite an enlightening one…my email is email@example.com
When did I disclose that I’m a lawyer.
Several comments ago…:-)
Great post! It is very unfortunate that people have no class and are ignorant! These stupid white people have no room to judge anyone anymore than any other race.