The Moment I Realized I Was A Black Girl

Today is International Women’s Day and people all over the world are honoring women who have impacted their life in one way or another. As I thought about what I wanted to blog about to commemorate the occasion, I quickly thought about my mother who always serves as my rock and daily inspiration. I also thought about how Black women continually have the burden of having to prove ourselves in a world that just doesn’t love us. I mean, just yesterday we were debating about whether Ciara’s family photo with her husband and son is appropriate or not. But today is different, because for this one special day, non-women of color will stand in solidarity with women of color to show the world how much it would royally suck if women were not in it.

Now, I don’t mean to sound like a negative Nancy, I for one am ALL about unity. I just know that this moment of solidarity isn’t going to last. As I continued to think about what I wanted to blog about today, I thought about my upbringing being a “military brat” and how that exposed me to other cultures and races at a very young age. When you’re a kid, you don’t think about race. Your friends are your friends and you don’t really know anything different than that until you have one of “those” experiences. Y’all know what I’m talking about.

For me that moment came when I was in middle school (7th grade maybe?) and it was an experience I would never forget.

Me in my red dress!

My dad was stationed at RAF Lakenheath AFB and we were living in a town just south of London in England. I was on the school bus headed home, sitting next to my friend who was a pretty little ginger (and white obviously). The bus driver makes his usual announcements. He mentioned that they had just cleaned the windows and asked that we not touch them (an announcement that me and my friend may have missed).

As we wait for the buses to take off, we see some friends outside and decide to try and get their attention. We start tapping on the windows and waving at our friends thinking absolutely nothing because well…we were too busy talking and missed the whole “don’t touch the windows announcement”.The bus driver sees me and my friend tapping on the windows that he just told us not to touch so obviously he’s upset.

What happened next was the moment I realized that I was a black girl ya’ll.

The bus driver yells “YOU, THE BLACK GIRL, STOP BANGING ON THE WINDOW!” Now, my first instinct was to look around to be sure that he was actually talking to me. Not to say there weren’t any other black people at my school, there were, but not many. When it finally it hit me that “Yes, bitch…he IS talking to you.” I was IMMEDIATELY embarrassed. I was hurt. I was upset. I was…ashamed. I wasn’t the only one who had touched the window, so why was I the only one who had to be publicly scolded and embarrassed?

That was the defining moment in my life when I realized that my skin color, as beautiful as it may be, made me a target. Even as a 12 year old girl. In the eyes of that bus driver, I wasn’t just a 12 year old girl…I was a 12 year old BLACK girl who had the miraculous power to make everyone else around me invisible. At least that’s how I felt. Even after the incident, the driver still had not acknowledged that the pretty little ginger sitting next to me was committing the exact same crime I was doing. Was I wrong? Of course I was…but never before had I felt that I was wrong because I was black.

My mommy and me

Black women have a long history of being disrespected in America. This incident didn’t even happen in the America so that should tell you even more about how people of color are viewed. Thankfully, I have a beautiful and strong black woman as a mother who taught me that my black is beautiful and continues to be an example of what being a black woman should look like. So for International Women’s Day, I honor my mother, my grandmothers, my aunts, and all the women in my life that shaped my outlook on the world as kid and showed me that though intolerance and racism exist against us, we can rise above it with class and dignity.

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