I have become that person…but how?

I spent a lot of time with friends yesterday. A group of friends for brunch and then another friend stopped by to chat for a bit. That’s what adults do right? Eat brunch and chat? How did I get here?

Those two conversations were filled with lots of catching up and discussion of future plans as most conversations are. I’ve had similar conversations with all of these people multiple times because while I love them all dearly and am super close to them all I don’t see them frequently because of life and adulting. And that’s fine. We all are doing it and no one gets mad about it. I appreciate that about my friends.

At some point during both conversations though I realized, I have become that person. What person you ask? Well if your just a little patient I’ll tell!

In discussing some of my personal goals, the usual, weight loss, saving money, moving out (yep…I’m 30 years old and still live with my parents. That’s a blog for another day) came up. I’ve recently started to pick up on peoples responses to my saying I’m going to do these things. Let’s just say they aren’t good. Sometimes it’s met with laughter (thanks Dad), sometimes it’s met with harsh reminders (I thought you were on a diet) that only really serve to annoy me and trigger my stubbornness (thanks Mom), most times it’s met with slight side eye, sighs of “that’s great” with the undertone of “we’ve had this conversation plenty of times but yet here you still are” and encouragement with a hint of “there’s really no reason why you haven’t already done this you’re just lazy/content and used to this lifestyle” (thanks friends, family, coworkers, strangers). And I admit, since these are areas I am not happy with in my life, I probably read more into people’s slight shifts in tone, side eyes, eye rolls, and comments than they actually mean. And I put some of the stuff I’ve been already thinking into their comments too.

But, the realization that I have become that person, officially hit me after brunch, when my friend Michael stopped by and I told him my plan to move out and then my thoughts about potential life style changes for health purposes and both comments got a sarcastic slow clap with a “we’ll see.” A lot of people would be pissed at Michael for this response. I, however, have known Michael for going on 20 years (how did we get so old) and while he may be a self proclaimed ass hole, his intentions (towards me at least) are never to hurt or harm. We could all use a level headed, blunt, call it what it is friend…even if it bruises our ego a bit because on the flip side, Michael has always celebrated any of my successes with the fierceness of a loving brother.

So, what have my friends responses for several weeks/months/years and at brunch and Michael’s slow clap helped me to realize…I have become that person. Dear God lady what person?!?! I’ve become the person that no one actually takes serious when they set goals. The person that sets these goals and is super excited about them but somewhere down the line, and usually very quickly, falls off. It would not surprise me if my family secretly takes bets on how long I will keep up any dieting or healthy living practices. And I know for certain they do not believe me or even entertain my talks about moving out anymore. It’s as if everyone is just waiting to see if it happens but no one is holding their breath because they know the possibility of them dying in the process is high.

But how did I get here?

I’m not sure I’ve ever been a highly goal oriented person. I’ve always felt like most people have known since they were 6 what they wanted to do with their life. I literally decided I wanted to be a counselor one day while on campus my senior year of undergrad talking to a friend. I had about 3 months to get my application turned in take the necessary tests to apply. Then in grad school I felt everyone knew what population they wanted to work with. I have stumbled through the last five years finally finding a population that I absolutely love but even then had to step away from in order to be effective and not lose my own mind. Once a month, usually right before I start my period when I feel bloated and disgusting I go to bed and say “ok this is it. I’m going to get my life together.” Then I start my period, refuse to do anything that week because life is hard enough when your vagina is dying so I have all intentions of doing something when it’s over. My period ends, the bloating goes away, and while my body is far from perfect I usually catch a glimpse in the mirror before I shower one day and say “you know what, you good Ashley! If someone can’t love all of this then they don’t deserve you” and the cycle begins again. I can justify a lot of things and I ultimately refuse to shame myself for being human and doing things that humans need to do like eat, and rest, and enjoy life so as not to go crazy…but then I can justify doing these to excess which is where the problem begins.

It’s almost as if that slow clap Michael did made me connect all the dots and realize that while he’s the only person who did it outright, everyone else is probably doing it in their mind. My response to him was something along the lines of “don’t doubt me” to which he responded with something far less enlightening but similar too “I don’t doubt you can do it. I’m just waiting for it to happen.”

I know a few things about myself. One of which is that I can be really stubborn and strong willed and there is a certain level and type of negativity that I use as a driving force. It’s what caused me to give birth without an epidural, because everyone said I wouldn’t. It’s what caused me to go to college and grad school and find a career that I love, because I was afraid of becoming a teen mom statistic or being what I knew people were betting I would be…a failure.

But sometimes that backfires. And there is a moment where those negative comments become my way of fighting the system and my stubbornness becomes “oh I’ll show you that I absolutely do not have to do these things.” That’s usually surrounds any negative responses to my weight gain/loss or my still living at home.

So yes, I have become that person. I’m aware. I apologize to the people who are sick of hearing me talk about these things without seeing any action. I thank you for loving me all the same and not giving up. I’ve decided to make no promises and to also stop talking about it. Thank you Michael for that slow clap and gentle chuckle of supportive pessimism.

We shall see what happens!!

Being Mixed in Today’s Racial Climate

So newsflash, if you didn’t already know, I’m mixed. My mom is white and my dad is black. My mom is like white white. She’s Canadian for goodness sake, I’m not sure if it gets much whiter than that. My dad is pretty black. He’s from Eastern North Carolina (and let’s just settle the debate once and for all. The best barbecue. I’m not arguing with you sorry) and while I’m sure it gets more black than that, we can all acknowledge that’s a pretty special kind of black.

I’m aware that I’ve probably made like 10 racially insensitive remarks already. So if you are offended at all by anything I’ve said…you should just stop reading now. I’m not one for political correctness and I’m not a master of this topic. I’m just a random mixed woman writing at 6 am.

One thing I will touch base on before getting to the more important stuff is my choice of the word mixed. There are very small debates in parts of the world as to what is the correct term to use when discussing people who come from more than one racial back ground. And yes, yes I hear you all now “we are all the human race” or technically “every is more than one race.” Ok great. Please sit your all lives matter behind down somewhere and just listen for once. I purposefully use the term mixed because I like it best. Please insert bi-racial, or multi-racial as you please if it bothers you but as for me and my house, we are mixed. Call it what you want, just not mullato because we might fight.

Anywho…

If you are unaware of the stressful racial climate of today’s world…please read a book, open the paper, turn on the news or just kind of pay-a-fucking-ttention the next time you’re out in public, then come back and read this. It’s not good. It’s never been good and part of me fears it never will be. Yes there has been change and in some areas, progress, but there is still a very, very long way to go. And that’s a post that one of my fellow bloggers could definitely write much better than I could.

What I’m here to kind of briefly bring to your attention and then peace out about is, what your mixed friends may be experiencing right now. And if they aren’t experiencing it, I sure as hell am so it’s important for that reason alone.

It’s tough.

And maybe in a way that you wouldn’t expect.

It’s always been tough to be black, and therefore tough to be mixed if you look even the slightest bit black. Definitely not tough in the same way but tough.

And then there is the general struggle that is to be mixed. Research says I will have a identify crisis regarding what I am. And maybe this is it. But up until this point I have been very much aware of what I am. I’m mixed. And that has never confused me. My parents didn’t ram a racial identity down my throat. And I woke up every day to my white mother and black father in the same household loving me and allowing me to live my best mixed life. The question of “what are you” was always answered with “mixed” then later on when I discovered the fine art of petty the response was “human.” But bottom line, I have never questioned what I am racially. I’m mixed. The best and worst of BOTH worlds. Many many other people have not understood it, have tried to put me in a box and demanded “yea but you gotta pick one” or my favorite “well your dad’s black so you’re black” like my entire white mother just doesn’t count. Bye Felicia.

So my current mixed dilemma…

There is this definite culture right now in the black community of hating white people. Now I’m certain this is nothing new. It’s always been there. Black and white people not getting along is as American as apple pie and lynchings. This is most likely just my generations experience of that. But I am experiencing it all the same, and through my mixed filter, constantly keeping in mind my white mother, grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandfather when I hear comments like

“White people suck”

“I don’t care what white people think”

“Everyone but white people”

“I hate white people”

“White people are the devil”

I see this and much more, sprawled in my timelines every day, and I have found myself in many a conversation where these statements are made and I just kind of sit there like “ummm hello. Mixed person in the building please don’t count a whole half of me out.”

And I would be lying if I said I hadn’t said some of these things too. It’s hard not too. White people have done some seriously fucked up shit towards black people and continue to do so on a very high, political, systematic basis every day (again another post for another day that I probably won’t write, but think prison system, drug war, legalization of marijuana, gentrification type things). So I totally get where the statements are coming from.

But the reality is, not all white people have done these things or think this way and we get no where by making such broad generalizations and statements. And I know for a fact that many of the people I have heard these things from, do not think this way about all white people, because they have white friends or at the very least absolutely love my mom, but just some pure honesty from a mixed woman…every time I hear those statements I get this sucker punch to the gut of my racial identity and go into immediate fight or flight mode. And I’ll admit, the majority of the time I opt for flight. Like I said. I’ve said these things too.

I’ve even gone so far as to be proud that my moms pretty much “someone’s old granny reincarnated in this white woman’s body.” Yep. I’ve said that. It sounds good. Makes me feel like I didn’t miss out on this black experience of having a black mom. I get excited when I see videos on Facebook about “things black moms say” and I’m like “yea my mom has said 95% of those things too. Yay I didn’t miss out.” But I’ve realized in the last few days, and as I write this blog, that that’s kind of a fucked up way of thinking. My mom’s white. Super white. Blonde hair. Blue eyed. Like I said, she’s freakin Canadian for crying out loud. She’s white! And yea she can throw down in the kitchen with the best of them. And she gets mad and cusses and threatens to never cook for anyone again and she definitely has asked me if I have McDonald’s money more than once. But she’s still white. I still almost cussed this black guy out at Walmart one time in his black lives matter t-shirt for getting an unnecessary attitude with her because she patiently waited for him to move and said excuse me but he didn’t hear it. She’s white. People look at her and assume things based off that and because she’s white she has certain privilege in this world that I as her mixed daughter do not have. But I think she has used it beautifully. She will politely cuss you out for using the n-word in her presence and will hold off on letting you know about her black husband and mixed children just to see if you’re going to say some racist shit first. She is legit rooting for everyone black and will tell you. Shes definitely invited to the cook out. She’s probably made half the food. And her Mac and cheese is quite possibly top 5 that you’ve ever tasted. And even though she meets all those stereotypes about what it means to be black…she’s white.

And I would not change anything about her or my experience being a mixed woman with a white mother.

So anywho, I have said all that to say this. Not all white people are evil. Not all white people are terrible. And just like we do not want all black people to be classified as thugs or gangsters or criminals or dangerous, we get no where and do not further any cause, by speaking in generalized terms in response.

These issues only get solved by open and honest communication with people who don’t look like you. And that can only be done with an open mind and a willingness to learn and understand and not the agenda to change.

So, go befriend a white person today, and if you can’t find one let me know, because my mom is awesome!

Side note: Pastor Furtick with Elevation church recently did an amazing conversation with Charlemagne the God around this topic of difference and conversation. You should check it out.

http://elevationchurch.org/sermons/come-out-of-your-corner/