Me in middle school. Old MySpace photos for authenticity.
Today was one of those days when I woke up with a headache, to a sky filled with smog, where I couldn’t see past what felt like 3 feet, and I just overall felt tired and over it. Half hoping I just passed out midway through getting ready in the morning so I'd actually have a reason for feeling the way I did; obviously I didn’t. This mood of just feeling “meh” carried on into my day until I finally ended up in Whole Foods, unnecessarily shopping for lunch and things I didn’t need.
While at Whole Foods, I decided to call my mother and just basically, complain. I had no real reason for calling her, nothing urgent, nothing catastrophic, but instead, I couldn’t shake my morning mood of “meh” along with to current state of uncertainty that fills my life. I am 23 and life is filled with making decisions and quite frankly the idea of failure or making the wrong decision freaks me out. I am beyond worried that a choice I make now will have a snowball effect on my life 20-30-40 years down the line. In fact, no decision of mine holds any real weight. I am 23. And even if what might momentarily feel like the wrong decision will either correct itself or I can change it, time is on my side.
So while I was strolling through the aisle of Whole Foods deciding which brand of organic quinoa I was buying this week, and my mother was listening to me debate the same two things back and forth. Bless my parents for answering my calls because in most cases I am deciding between two lunch options; my mother decided to share a current event with me.
There is a women that is Freelancing at the company my mom works for who my mother has become close with for two specific reasons: 1. The woman is a single mother, and for the first three years of my life she raised me on her own. Than when we came to the US my parents both worked two jobs in the beginning or were balancing work and school and the fact that they didn’t have any real friends or family in the US to help out (typical immigrant stuff). Plus, moms always relate about being moms and raising kids. 2. Because as many of you know my little sister was bullied intensely in middle school for being petite. While she isn’t as short anymore, she is still significantly skinnier and looks about 12. My parents know the battle of fighting the school while your child is being bullied and nothing happening. The woman that works with my mom has a 13-year-old daughter in middle school who is being bullied. Recently it escalated to the point where it became a physical altercation. Now I don’t know who started the fight, why it started, or any of the details, but I do know, during the fight, the bully managed to rip out 3-4 braids out of the girls head, HER ACTUAL HAIR WAS RIPPED OUT. Then after the fight got broken up the little girl, 13-year-old, who was bullied, and just had her hair ripped out, got put in handcuffs.
Now I don’t know what is the protocol for school fights, I don’t know if that is normal. I couldn’t imagine that the policeman/school security/teachers who broke up the fight couldn’t manage to keep two 13-year-old girls apart without having to handcuff one of them. I mean 13-year-old girls are tiny probably weigh around 120, but again I don’t know the protocol. Now that part of this story that has been on my mind all day, and motivated me to write...
The little girl that just had her braids ripped out of her head, who I am sure was bleeding and in pain told her mother after that she wasn’t concern about her hair, and it being ripped from her head, but she was worried once she got handcuffed that she was about to get beaten by the cops.
The little girl is black. And while I have never pretended to understand the extent of racism and race issues in America, or globally really, and I hope no one has ever thought I have pretended to know or “act black” or “think I was black” because until hearing this story I knew there was a race issue in America, but I don’t think I entirely got it, and probably still don't, but while I have never been black, will never be black, and will never understand what it is like to be black, I have been a 13-year-old girl.
I have been a 13-year-old girl, and I know that during that time in your life you have so much going on in between hormones, and guys sucking, and other girls can just be b*tches, it’s tough, and you cry all the time for no reason. My point is, being a 13-year-old girl is hard enough without being handcuffed and being fearful for your life. And even though I haven’t been bullied first hand, I’ve seen it from my sister’s perspective; I know how hurtful it is and how much it sucks.
And I also know one thing for sure that if at 13, or truthfully now, if I got into a physical altercation with another girl, where my hair had been ripped out, and the police handcuffed me. I think I would be more worried about my hair than the fact that I was handcuffed and what was going to happen next, and that folks, is white privilege. The idea that at that moment I can be more concerned about my physical appearance than to be fearful for my life is the perfect example of privilege that I could have never made up.
I did not write this to share my privilege, and I don’t know why I wrote it besides the fact that I have had friends, white friends, share with me the idea that they don’t think there are race issues in America or don’t understand the situation with cop XXXXX and XXXXX. White friends have asked why I don’t say the “n-word” and why there “isn’t a white history month?” People who very clearly don’t see their privilege and think in some way think that by minorities getting a voice they are losing theirs and “their power.” For those friends that have done the above I just want to ask you, if you got into a fight and got your hair ripped out would you be more worried about the status of your hair or your safety after you got handcuffed? And until you can tell me wholeheartedly you would be more concerned about your safety than until that moment you have to acknowledge your privilege and know that you are not “losing your voice.”
I hope, I really hope that you will always be there for your friend's of color and other minorities and work to improve their quality of life. If nothing else listen to your friends and their stories and their side of things, and do not feel threatened by their voice but rather feel empowered when those around you feel powered. Until that moment comes, I hope you help to echo their causes and explain to those that don’t understand, what you know and what you can explain to help bridge the gap on our experience on earth and life for those around you.
Because I am going to try, try more.
A glimpse into my ever changing life through the words I've typed.