So if you didn't read my last post, my new goal in life is to make sure that my five year old learns more about his history, and is proud of who he is and what he looks like.
I started reading Gabrielle Union's book, We're Going To Need More Wine, weeks and weeks ago at Barnes and Noble. Basically, I was intrigued from the beginning. I mean, anyone who has a chapter in their book titled Celebrity Vaginas Itch Too... had me hooked. Judge me if you'd like, I'm a Christian woman, but sometimes the raw, real deal is what we need to hear. The title is blantantly crass, and personally, I would never say it (write it?) but it is what it is. Point blank period. So back to this day, weeks and weeks ago, my reading lasted a grand total of about seven minutes. I had little man with me, and he wasn't having it. Mama reading and not giving him full attention? No, ma'am! So, to make a long story short, I found myself reserving this same book at the library about two weeks ago, and in the midst of little man and I reading our books weekly for the public library's summer reading program, I finally got the email that the book was in!
One of the things I love the most about this book, aside from its rawness, is the fact that despite her success, Gabrielle truthfully details her own personal struggles and insight into an industry that utilizes her, but at the same time does not always necessarily appreciate her, and certainly does not (and will likely never) appreciate her blackness. Digging into the first few chapters about her childhood, I found so many relatable instances in her growing up in a prodominately white environment, from trying to mask her "blackness" to fit in, to constantly striving to be better, faster, stronger, etc., just to be noticed and considered equal. God works in ways we do not understand, but I feel like I'm meant to read this book during this season as a mom for insight that is not my own. Reading these pages, I immediately thought about my little boy. Are my husband and I just like Gabrielle's parents in that we've found ourselves in circles where his culture is suppressed to the point of being non-existent, easily escapable and not strong enough foundationally for his five year old self to grasp onto? Or am I just overthinking the fact that my child is growing up and at age five he is just beginning to notice things for the first time, and as serious as they are, his statments and questions are just a part of his learning development and growth? And, as we searched for a new home in months past, were we wrong to look at the neighborhoods that upgraded us into the home we've worked toward, or would it have been best to find a home in a neighborhood strictly for its diversity? At the end of the day, a non-diverse neighborhood likely leads to a non-diverse school. How this is fair that I have to all of the time consider my child's mental and psychological wellness against his best opportunities for education is beyond me. As a matter of fact, it is a constant worry. It is also a constant worry that race is even a factor in my life. God made us all in His image, what would the world be like if EVERYONE could just accept the fact that we are His, He loves us, and He made each us of the way He wants us to be. Ugh. The answer to these questions are still TBD. Should I miraculously have answers, I'll be sure to share of course, but if you're a mother, I think you know deep down that "results" of our teaching and raising pertaining to the health and wellness of our children show over time. So yes, TBD.
I'm not too sure where this post was supposed to go, usually I have plans before I begin typing and sharing thoughts, but I just had to give props to Gabrielle. She raises black boys like I do and sees the obstacle the same way that I see it. And for all of the similar feelings about myself that I experienced growing up, seeing them in someone so successful kind of made me feel good. We all have struggles, and problems and insecurities so I guess it is just nice to see that I'm not the only one. This book is just another reminder that money can make it possible to move into better and bigger neighborhoods, or aid the affordabilty of private school, but wealth is not the same as the mainstream privilege that we sometimes feel we have to assimilate to. But why should we have assimilate to "mainstream" culture to fit in and be noticed and relevant for the normal everyday things so many people take for granted? (I can't wait to read more about this very idea in Gabrielle's book!!!) Better yet, who's to say that what is "mainstream" is really even mainstream? Perception of anything and everything is how you yourself see it, right? So doesn't that mean we can change what our "mainstream" looks like? Questions that need answers people. Questions that need answers now.