Every morning I wake up, I have the pleasure of seeing myself in the mirror. I purposely and strategically make sure this mirror is somewhere I have to see it before the regular morning routine occurs.
I roll over and place both feet on the grainy dog-hair-ridden tile floor, only to remember that my puppy has yet to be let out. “She must be dying” I think to myself. She’s been so good, has not drenched the floor with her liquid high pH balance substance that often comes in a light or a dark yellow color. She wiggles herself out from under the bed, to greet me and remind me that I am beautiful and I am important and she NEEDS ME TO TAKE HER OUT RIGHT NOW.
I stand up, half-naked (love to sleep in the nude…some days totally, other days not so much) and gaze at myself in the mirror. “Good morning”, I say to myself.
Staring back at me I see a smart, educated, kindhearted and loving mother, wife, and caregiver. I see a strong person, with a lot of personality. I see a person who is driven, motivated, and eager to learn more each day. I see a person who holds a degree in psychology, and two bachelors in English. I see someone who is in the process of getting a Masters in Theological Studies. I see someone who has certificates of excellence for her work, and conduct. I see a person who is a teacher, a singer, a writer, a designer, a musician, a believer, a giver, a receiver, . I see a person who will give her life for those she loves.
But it took years to get to that place in my life, where I see myself for my accomplishments, and not for my physical attributes.
But what does my daughter see? When she wakes up in the morning? She too has a mirror that stares back at her. I asked her this one day and she said: “I look like a mess”. When I heard her say this I thought “oh my word, I get it.” I then asked her, “if you could do anything to change what you see, how would you go about doing it.” She stared back at me and gave me the “are you really asking me these deep questions mom? I’m only 12”. So I left it at that.
“My hair is all squished to one side…and the top is so puffy” she then proceeded to say. See, my 12-year-old sees the physical components of who she is when she wakes up in the mornings. That is the first things she thinks about as she sees herself staring back at well, herself.
Where have we gone in society that our children are struggling to see who they are as true people, instead of just the physical mass they are fearfully and wonderfully made of. I tribute this struggle to the social construct of racism, and prejudice.
It is everywhere….the curly hair that sticks up when we wake up in the morning is hard to control, and we hate it. To us, we don’t feel very attractive. But yet, people want to touch our hair. We are considered “exotic” in our own countries. In some instances, we are considered “cool” when we are younger.
When my puppy wakes up in the morning, she sees herself in the same mirror I see myself in and guess what, she ignores it, and at times does not even realize she is looking at herself. She just walks by it.
Many people will choose to ignore racism or the idea that it exists and that it is alive and well, today, 2015, all around the world. They think that if you ignore racism, it will eventually go away. I see racism like a yeast infection….if you don’t find the root of the problem, it will continue to affect you.
I have so many people I call “friends” get so up in arms about my posts, and my ideas about how racism is still present and how white privilege exists. These are the same people who will most-likely not get shot for running a red light…or going 30 in a 15. These are the people who enjoy the privilege of being white and it is obvious because they don’t even see it as being a privilege.
When I see myself in the mirror, I now see the non-physical attributes 1st, but I for sure do not ignore my color, race, hair-style, texture, voice, eyes, ears, mouth, nose, thighs, breasts, knees, feet, head, face, teeth, tongue, butt, fingers and my naughty bits. I see it all, but I choose to focus on who I have become as a result of those who are like my puppy-just choose to walk away claiming they don’t see color.
Once I have identified myself, I stand up and take my dog out to use the bathroom. We walk back up together and the daily routine begins. I get to go to the bathroom, and now, get a close-up of me….all my imperfections, and insecurities seem to surface during that quiet time. The thought that runs through my mind non-stop is how will I help my daughter see who she is on the inside before she judges herself on the outside, in a society that tells her she is ugly.
“Lord, help me walk the path of least resistance” I pray to myself. And this is not a prayer for things to go well, this is a prayer for me to learn what peace is made of, and also of how justice needs to take shape.
Everyday I walk for about 25 minutes. On my walks I spend time observing conversations people are having around me…I hear them, and my ears are hyper sensitive to the negative words that could and more often-than-not, exit their mouths. It hurts….but I want them to say it to my face….not behind my back.
I want them to say it to my face because this way, I am able to find a way to forgive them. When people are evil to your face, it is a more sincere evil, it is hard to do and it takes balls. When they are critical of me because I am black, a woman, and strong, they fail to make eye-contact….because sometimes fear is greater than the evil itself.
I want them to say it to my face because all of the nerves they build up to actually be evil to me because of my color, or my gender, will be used up and they won’t have the nerves to use them on my daughter.
They will be tired, their adrenaline will be gone, and they will have no time, or strength to hurt my daughter with these words.
I go ahead of her….always….but I also let her walk beside me and with me…always. When she sees evil being done to me, she begins to see that it does exist…and it happens to those she loves.
Looking in the mirror each morning allows us to question whether we are those negative things people tell us we are on a daily basis. We get a chance to decide how we will respond because only we are in control of our own reaction. And we get to also rest assured that YOU CAN’T FIX STUPID so being smart about it creates an environment of awareness.