Strive, struggle, and survive this is the constant state of any black family. A perpetuating, never-ending set of invisible circumstances that can either swallow you up or propel you forward into the fight of your life. Quite literally.
We start with the struggles of the most innate response to human life, bear fruit. Taking care of the fruit/children that you create should not be met with disdain or hatred. We strive just like any other family to create a family dynamic with God, marriage, and love. A family that can stand strong, builds a legacy and a name that can stand the test of time.
It sounds easily attainable but for the black family, the standards are different. How you get from one stepping stone to the next is just navigated differently from our counterparts.
There are invisible oceans between each stone, and while we think we can just hop to the next stone. We really must walk on water to get to our next destination.
The world tells the black family, we are meant to be alone, our families will always be broken and we are meant to live off welfare in a gang riddled environment. Never showing us the hope of the great American dream IN COLOR, our dream is made devastatingly simple… SURVIVE.
Our family walked across the ocean, pushed passed statistics, and broke a few barriers. Just to be faced with pounds and lakes at our destination of the suburbs.
Our family has stepped on a few stones. Married 13 years this coming July. Raising our daughters in a two-parent home in a suburb that even Peyton Manning called home. Just ever so slightly surpassing the invisible limits placed upon us due to our blackness. And I really do mean ever so slightly.
It has been a struggle to create a sustainable household for the family that we’ve built. I won’t even tell you the amount of racism, suppression, and oppression both my husband and I have had to deal with in the corporate world.
Honestly, we should be well past where we are right now financially.
Our struggle begins with systematic structures set in place long before our family was a twinkle in the 21st century’s eye. Each day we have to set those emotions aside and still strive for the best for our family and those around us.
The systematic odds of lack of income, lack of family support, and a lack of people that really see our true VALUE in the workplace. Each holding us back from truly attaining wealth and moving our family into a state of economic sustainability.
Spite the trials we are still told that the dreams of our counterparts are attainable if we go above and beyond what the norm is. So we reach for the stars and land in the suburbs.
Yes! Finally, this means good schools for our kids, a home that we can drive up to and be like ” Yeah, that’s us”.
The theme song from the Jeffersons becomes real as we “move on up”. But, for those of us that get to this space, we are often met with a set of unwritten biases and mindsets once we get here. From the white community that we are trying to integrate ourselves into.
This brings us to Indiana, our new home. A city that is 91.1% white, a city that gets us side-eyed when we say where we live. A city where people literally say to us “Black people don’t live there.”!
Segregation is still VERY real in the suburbs. It’s not talked about. It’s not publicized, but you can see it, feel it and taste it when you live here.
While one may think the struggle is not the same for those of us who live in the suburbs; I for one can tell you the struggle is REAL. Almost worst. We trade the struggles of what would be called a “normal” black threat of gang violence, gun violence, or natural causes. For constant scrutiny, uncertain feelings, and the stress of being criminalized for being black in the suburbs.
We are not the majority here and the constant note that you can never blend in can honestly mess with your mental psyche.
We have to take people as they are, as one person, one neighbor or business owner will receive our family differently.
When meeting others there are of course some genuine interactions with people who really want to know us. On the flip side there are the interactions with people that stare and ask questions in disbelief of us living in the same subdivision let alone the same city.
These frequent interactions are draining. They are hurtful and honestly understanding how people can feel threatened by my family without ever meeting us is something I can’t wrap my head around.
Families, police and even neighbors ride pass our house slowly to see what we might be doing. If we have keys or if we are supposed to be in OUR HOME.
We walk in restaurants and it seems like time stops, everyone stops eating and all eyes are on us. Once the initial shock wears off and we sit and eat we are still met with stares and quick glances.
I’ve even had a woman walk up to me and ask me if I was a single mother when in a church service. After informing her that I wasn’t, she asked me if I was sure.
Two instances that were scarring, to say the least
My daughter who is a great student, in every after school activity and who has parents that are actively involved in the school still faced racism. In her 8th grade year, she was met with a teacher that didn’t see her as this great student. He saw her as someone who is beneath him, constantly making her feel less than the rest of her class. Always noting that she was the outsider in the classroom. So much so, another student stood up to the teacher informing him that she felt he was being racist. (Our principal did take swift action and I appreciate him for that. )
I must also tell you that as a black mother we have to be a force in the school system. Our voices and our faces must be constant in the school so our children aren’t left behind.
Then we were sent a letter stating that we had to be redistricted due to our address. I call the school confused of course, and they informed us that we live in an apartment and would need to go to the school closest to us. Mind you we live in the subdivision two blocks from the school. It was said that we were simply mistaken for another family.
But this didn’t happen to any of our neighbors…
I could go on about the many instances we’ve come in contact with. The many instances that have made our family feel like we don’t belong here. No matter what we do.
We still push forward pass our circumstances, we wake up each day waiting to be accepted into our community without prejudice. We all want the same things; to gain wealth, raise our families, and have lives that are lead with a purpose that we can be proud of.
No, it is not all bad and we have been blessed to be where we are today. There is a community of people here that want to know and love our family. But there is still a long, long way to go.
If you’re wondering how to connect with the black families in your neighborhood here are two imperative things you can do to connect.
1, JUST BE GENUINE– we want to connect with you just like anybody else does. We want to be an integral part of the community, Break bread with us so we can learn about each other.
2. GIVE US THE BENEFIT OF THE TRUTH: Not the benefit of the doubt. Let your first thought be good and if it’s not, think twice. Change your thought.
We are just going for a jog.
We are just working on our home.
We do live in the neighborhood.
We are just playing with toy guns.
We do just want to get home.
We can do the work together, cross the bridge together. We are better together I pray this gives someone a glimpse of what we deal with and the emotional stress behind it. I can feel the hearts around me changing and it feels amazing. People are reaching out and inviting black people into thier inner circle, leraning about thier struggles and growing togther.
This is good. This is the Change. This is the new MOVEMENT!
The All Purpose Woman
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Your writing is beautiful, your family even more so 💕 thank you for this!!