So because Temple hates me, I have class 6 days a week. YES 6!! S-I-X!!! I don’t even want to think about it.
Now, if it weren’t for me having to be to school, I would not have witnessed what I consider to just be an absolutely atrocity.
Allow me to paint a picture for you:
I arrive at the Ferry Ave. PATCO station to catch the 8:15am train.
It’s so early. I don’t want to be there.
My body is and mind are so upset with me for the amount of sleep I didn’t get. I move through the little pay gate and round the corner to approach the stairs. I see that the escalator is STILL broken.
I stare, briefly, up the staircase and search within myself for the tiniest piece of self-will to get my right foot on the first step.
I find the “will” and begin my ascent up what seems to be a MILLION extremely steep stairs to get to the platform. To both my surprise and relief there was an available seat on the platform that would allow me to get my life together before getting on the train.
Sitting to my left was an older white gentleman reading some book, and, immediately to my right, was a little black boy, or young man, about 10 or 11, who looked absolutely miserable with a half eaten green apple in his left hand that he was no longer interested in.
I felt for the kid. It’s 8-something on a Saturday morning and instead of eating a ginormous bowl of Fruity Pebbles or Trix or whatever while kicking back and watching SpongeBob, he’s sitting on some damn train platform waiting to go somewhere he’d probably rather not be. <—Of course these are all my musings, but hell I didn't even want to be there, so I could only imagine his feelings.
He had these fancy little sunglasses with him. He put them on his face. He took them off. He put them on top of his head. He took them off. Then he put them in his shirt and just let them hang there.
Why in God's name did he do that?
The act of him putting those sunglasses in his shirt sent the woman he was with, whom I could only presume as his mother or at least aunt, into a rage! I mean this lady went OFF! The way she spoke to him was so abrasive and harsh. I even cringed!!
Her words were the following:
"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING??!!? WHY DID YOU PUT THEM THERE!?! THAT IS NOT WHERE I TOLD YOU TO PUT 'EM!!!! YOU GET ON MY FUCKING NERVES ALWAYS DOING STUPID SHIT!! PUT 'EM ON YOUR FACE!!! YOU MAKE ME SO FUCKIN SICK!!!"
I was heartbroken. And embarrassed.
And the little boy, God bless him, looked down right battered by her words. He looked like he wanted to break down and cry. He actually aged right in front of my eyes!
I had to fight everything within myself not to lean over to him and tell him it's ok, give him a little pat on the back and a dollar, because that goes against one of my personal codes: Do not get involved in other people's business/issues/lives unless invited in, and even then, stick close to the exits.
What I found even more striking is that the whole time this woman was on her cell phone spewing explicative after explicative without even the smallest shred of shame or consideration for those around her or, more importantly, her child.
No, I'm not a parent and no I do not have any idea of how hard, tough, stressful, etc. it is to be a parent. However, I do know what it's like to be a little kid who doesn't know or isn't even aware of the thought processes that would drive a person to do something that seems "dumb". They just do it! It's an impulse! Which I do believe, sometimes, the honest to God answer to the "Why did you do that?" question is "I don't know." To this day, there are times when I have to ask myself, "Why the f**k did you just do that!!?!" And my answer is "I don't know!"
I think I should address why I was embarrassed by this women. I do not want to make this about race, or gender or anything. I do believe that race, gender, religion, etc. are things that cannot and should not be ignored, but they also should not be used to exclude anyone. On the other hand, I am a black woman, and I can only see the world through that particular lens, no matter how much I empathize with someone else, my unique experiences shape my particular point of view and that is all I got to depend on in order to navigate through this life.
This woman is obviously not me, and I am most certainly not her, but in the larger scheme of things, that may not necessarily be true. More often than not it only takes one adverse incident to drive someone's opinion from one of understanding to one laced with stereotypes.
And this was that adverse incident.
That woman, at that moment, was judged by everyone who heard her. There were some who agreed with her. There were some who did not. There were some who didn't care. More to the point there was a view, an image, if you will, of this woman crafted purely from her actions. My assumption was that no one there knew her, and to tell you the truth, if I were sitting next to her, I doubt I would be able to point her out to you myself. Only a piece of this statement is true.
Stick with me because I'm about to get deep on your asses:
You know this woman. I know this woman. Anyone with access to a television, the internet or even a radio knows this woman.
She is the "Angry Black Woman." Battered by media and at the mercy of public opinion, she is always portrayed as poorly spoken, loud-mouthed, neck snapping, gum popping finger waving and often terse. She never has a man, and if she does, he's no good anyway.
This woman is me. This woman is my mother, my cousins, my aunts, my friends. This woman is a large part of who I am and what drives me.
Not really, but then she really is.
Everyday, from sun up to sun down, I go to war with this woman. I have to change minds, I have to change perceptions of anyone I encounter as well as my own.
I have been asked where the most dangerous places are or where someone should go if they want to buy weed <–Seriously, though!?! Do I look like I smoke? I've been asked how many kids do I have. I've been told to not worry about the area I'm in that looks dangerous because "You're used to it right?"
All of these questions are based on the negative images of black women that are constantly perpetuated and re-established in the media. There are women who think it's cute now to be a "baby mama!" There are women who think being rude and abrasive is an attractive, desirable personality trait! And people automatically expect and equate it to being young black women; MYSELF INCLUDED! For God sake, my username is "The Mean Black Girl!!" I fucking embrace this shit!!
I'm not above admitting that the same stereotypes I go to war with everyday are the same ones I apply to other black women. I'd even go so far as to say that I could be considered a snob, aloof and, after having passed my judgement, I have even looked down on those women. I'm not above admitting my prejudices, because that's exactly what it is. I've even justified doing it before.
Shut up because you have too.
Whatever. The point that I'm making is this: I am disheartened by the actions of that woman at the station and the images of black women today, in general. Her whole demeanor was that of harsh, brash, and unapologetically confidence, yet she should have been ashamed of herself, but that's just my humble opinion. To me, what seems to be alarming is the rate at which this image is being tolerated, expected, and accepted even! The fact that there are young girls out there that think being Lil Wayne or TI or some basketball/football player's baby mama is the end all be all, is down right sad. That these same young girls are allowed to watch television shows and music videos that expose them to explicit sexual language and images, yet we can't figure out why at the age of 19 a girl has 3 kids yet she can only read on a 6th grade level and has no high school diploma is, again, sad.
This is not hyperbole.
This is the honest to God truth.
This is one of the many, in my opinion, epidemics that are plaguing the black community.
This is an image I actively perpetuate.
This is the mindset I go to war against.
This is me.
…and I don't like it; and no longer will I not stand for it.
Speak your mind…