Girls Like Me

I revisited the name of my blog. I thought maybe I was not being optimistic by the title, “Beginning…Again.” The thought that it looked like I fail a lot, meant I start and whatever it is doesn’t work and I start again. Then I realized, here we go again, doubt, guilt and shame was sitting in. After 61 years, one would imagine that those kind of feelings don’t show up as often, because after a certain age, it is what it is and that’s just the way it is. You are who you are. No trying to make any change and why now would it even matter! For an elderly African-American woman, it matters. It matters that I continue to begin and start as many times as I can; as many times as God allows.

For some girls like me, who were raised in Jim Crow south, who experienced an environment shaped to diminish your being in order that girls like me would not discover their spark. Black little girls who were given white dolls for Christmas and read the stories of Dick and Jane, the white children whose parents were always well-groomed and their dog, Spot, who was well-trained. When I reach high-school, my English Lit teacher wanted us to read the book, “Gone With The Wind.” Of course, I did not read the book, not because I found it to glorify the Confederate army, but because I was a typical and normal American teenager. Instead of reading this book demanded by my white, young, first year English Lit teacher, I wrote a made-up story as my book report, handed it in and got an “F”. I expected it, which now I realized was the wrong way of thinking on my part. I created a story, I created my own story, handed it in and got an “F”. My teacher did not encourage me to keep writing my own story, but instead demanded me not to do it again. Sure, maybe I should have read the book; it was her class. And maybe this teacher could have seen me as her student. But she did not, because she wasn’t expected to see me as a student, but I was expected to see her as my white, young, first year English Lit teacher.

So for some girls like me, who are now black “seasoned” women, we begin as often as we can, to tell our stories and to tell ourselves we are worthy. And when at times to tell and voice these stories become a struggle, because the past is hard to shake, you will find us sitting quietly, taking in strong breaths, and saying to ourselves, it’s okay, let us begin….. again.

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