by La Jaunesse Jordan
It's been three or four years since I've written for the paper. First, my mother passed. Then a year later, my daughter passed after having had a heart transplant nine months earlier. Since that time I went from being a grandmother to being a parent again. My granddaughter is now eight ( going on 28 ) . I forgot how much work parenting is. This is the hardest job on the planet—if you do it right. As just her grandmother, I could spoil her terribly and tell my daughter, 'It won't hurt her.' As her parent, I can't do that anymore. With relationships, I have to be careful not to slip into the Freddie Jackson syndrome: 'Rock Me Tonight For Old Times Sake,' knowing well the not-so-good things that will re-surface when the lust gets old. I can't just think about what's good for me and what's good to me. I have to think about how my relationships might affect her. I have to be responsible. We are surviving, and then some.
When I write my articles, I never know what my fingertips will present you with. I sat down to write about my Black History Month experience from last year that greatly changed my life.
But since I know so many of the readers, I couldn't just jump into the piece and not update you. I appreciate all of your support and I've missed writing for you.
I have not been to my regular job in about a year because I was told that I could not return to work until I apologize for my 2004 Black History Month Presentation. I was due to receive my gift for 10 years of service. Two years ago, I saw the notice for the show after the date had passed and was disappointed that I had missed being a part of it and had missed seeing it. Since I worked the midnight shift I didn't always get a lot of info on the happenings. I watched carefully for notification. Years earlier, when the job had a night out at All Jokes Aside Comedy Club, I was a performer. A couple of years ago, I won second place in the employee talent show. I love my co-workers and felt like we were a family celebrating together.
The notice asked for creative presentations. When the secretary asked what I would be doing, I told her that I have several talents and would be combining them. She said, 'Great! I know what to put on the program!' I was surprised that by my name was 'Special Presentation.' Everyone was excited to find out what the 'Special Presentation' would be.
I began with part of a speech for which I received first place in an oratorical contest, many years ago: 'What Black History Month Means to Me. Black History Month means nothing to me, ( pregnant pause ) nothing that the other 11 months of the year don't mean. For, I am not African-American for only one month each year. I am African-American for a lifetime. Therefore, I shall refer to this as What Black History Means to Me ... .'
I talked about two examples of racism that occured within my family. I told about a cousin of mine who narrowly escaped being murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. For a reason unknown to me, in the early '60s they went to her house in the middle of the night to kill her. Everyone said that she was not there, although they talked to her. They didn't know what she looked like. She left that night for 'The Great North' and is still scared to return to The South.
I told about my grandmother who worked for a white family-cleaning their home and caring for their children. One day when there was a lot of snow, she went to the front door, which was the only shoveled path. When she knocked on the door she was told, 'You know niggers don't use the front door!' I apologized for using that word and told them that I thought it was important for that word to show some significance of the impact.
I talked about the frequency with which I see young Black and Latino men with their hands on the hoods of their cars as police officers search them and their cars, presuming they are stolen and that the brothers have drugs on them. I showed how ridiculous it would seem if someone like my boss was placed in that role.
I talked about a number of inventions of colored folks. I asked if anyone had an accident at the major intersection near the job. I answered my own question saying, 'No! Because Garrett Morgan invented the traffic light!' I asked if anyone was lactose intolerant. I talked about George Washington Carver inventing soy milk. I mentioned about a dozen inventions by Blacks.
I then had some of my white co-workers on the auction block being sold as slaves and audience members bidded on them. I told them that when I was training to become a rape victim advocate that I became angered during some of the role play, as I was told, 'It's your fault! You shouldn't have worn that!' or 'What were you doing out at that time of night!' I truly felt some fraction of what some rape victims experience. I told them that we had many very capable experts that they could talk with about their feelings.
I ended with a quote from a Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes song: 'The world won't get any better if we just let it be. We've got to change the world—just you and me.'
Sound like a decent Black History Month Presentation? I got many, many compliments.
My boss called me and told me that she and the higher ups wanted to meet with me about my presentation. They told me that they were offended and that I was dishonest about what I was going to present, as well as many other things that seemed to be an attempt to break me down emotionally and psychologically.
Share your thoughts with me. You can e-mail me at email@example.com .