Positively Speaking

“We are not fighting for recognition as human beings…In fact, we are actually fighting for rights that are even greater than civil rights and that is human rights.” –Malcolm X

I was sitting in the library on the ship writing. Finding my solace as we approach the last few hours of our cruise. I am writing and in a place of peace. As usual, I am minding my own business and in walks a group of five pre-teens. Four of them are Black, and one is White. There is only one girl in the crowd, and she turns to one of the boys, and she says, “ You are so black that I can hardly see you half of the time.” I see the look of shame on his face. I’m steaming at this point. This is what we do as a race. We call each other out on our color, and we shame each other for not being dark or light enough. Why? This ugliness is what we have been taught and what will create constant division in the race. Instead of being excited about all of the shades we come in, we talk down to the ones who are different. The boy, being a boy felt the urge to do his boy thing and act out. He sat on the table instead of in a chair. Now I’m really hot because I know why he is doing it. I can’t hold my peace. I’m some body’s Momma, so I do it. “Why are you sitting on the table?” He looks at me, and I feel it. I know what it is. It is the challenge boys give you when they want to see if you will slap them blind if they say the wrong thing. My hand is ready. I don’t care whose child you are. He gets off the table and sits in a chair. I turn to the girl. “Why did you just call him Black?” No answer, because she has none. It is her way of insulting him, but Black, regarding skin color should never be an insult, least of all from another Black person. I tell her. “Young lady, we don’t do that.” I go back to my writing. I feel her heat. I don’t care. I’m not opposed to choking little girls with big mouths. I keep writing. “I’m sorry for calling you, Black. I didn’t mean it like that.” I smile inside. I don’t want her to know that I am happy for her elevation just yet. I want to see what comes next. “Whatever, you talk too much anyway.” I’m laughing because, like her thrashing, he doesn’t know how to take her apology either. Boys. She laughs. I catch her eye, and I give her a quick wink letting her know that she did a good thing. I see her smile, and all is well.

We cannot be afraid to speak to children. I am not. If they are doing or saying something out of order, my conclusion is that they do not know any better. It is ok not to know any better do these things. It is not Ok for those of us who do know better to continue to allow ignorance to remain blissful in our surroundings. Will she call someone Black again? Probably, but today she knows better and going forward it is on her. She will remember what I said, and she will remember how that made her feel and hopefully, she will understand that going forward her words are just that, hers.

To think that Black children are taught that their color is an insult is a shame. Their right to be humans has been tainted. I have never heard an Asian person call another person Asian as an insult. Maybe they do it. I don’t know all Asian people. I have never heard a White person call another White person, White as an insult either. Again, it might happen, I don’t know all White people. What I do know is that I have heard too many Black people call another Black person Black, Yellow, Purple, Half-White or some other color as an insult. Cut it out. Love the skin you are in and understand that we are blessed to represent so many shades of brown.

The Writer

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