Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I'm Gonna Tell Some Stories Now

The best medicine I know in the face of fear, hatred, lies and violence is love, storytelling, understanding, empathy and social action.

So I'm gonna tell some stories now, until I'm blue in the face and die.

Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand! Matthew 11:15 (New Living Translation)
“Whoever has ears to hear had better listen!” (Mark 4:9 NET).

When I was in the 5th or 6th grade, a very close family member was dating a Black man.
He took good care of her and loved her. I loved him too because of his kindness.
I borrowed a book from his library - an autobiography written by Dick Gregory.
It was funny and very relatable - I realized that the Black and Brown community had a lot in common.

Initially, my beloved mother would sometimes say really prejudiced and mean things about him.
This made me sad and angry and I called her on it.
She grew to love him because he was kind and spoke her love language - gifts.
Now as a middle-aged woman, I understand that my beloved mother was a product of her time and generation.
She was a dark-skinned Latina who grew up in Mexico in the 40s & 50s.
Colorism (prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group) is alive and well in the Mexican community - on both sides of the border.
I can only imagine what she was called growing up. She never talked about it.
I knew she was ashamed of her color because she did talk about that (an example of internalized oppression - when a member of an oppressed group believes and acts out the stereotypes created about their group, also called “self-hate”).
My beloved mother was very beautiful and had her vanity.
Telling this story is a bit nerve-wracking because even though she died in 2003, I can feel her over my shoulder giving me "the look" as I write this.
I am not betraying you, mami. I am telling my story.
It's all I've got in the face of fear, hatred, lies and violence.
I love all my relations.

I wanna look my grandchildren in the eye and tell them what I did and didn't do about racial injustice.

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