It Happened To Me
What Is Freedom To An Older Black Woman With A Mean Mother-In-Law?
We slowly piled into the small, mustard yellow room crowded with an over-sized meeting table, plastic chairs, a white board on a stand, and a side table with soda pop and the traditional veggie plate.
You know the kind… where no one ate the broccoli, and the carrots disappeared quickly along with the center ranch dressing.
I noticed these things because I awkwardly stood near the snack area at social gatherings making comments to strangers about the food; food was my love language.
Today, the area around the side table was too cluttered, so I was out of my how-I-made-friends element.
And, we were not here to party; we were here to sit and share in a Black woman, spirituality circle.
I felt like I didn’t connect to Black women.
Maybe because Mom was not Black, and I grew up without close contact with my Dad’s side of Black women who could have been my elders and peers.
Maybe because Black girls bullied me in junior and senior high school. I moved to Culpeper, Virginia from Lakewood, New Jersey when I was twelve. Before the age of twelve, Culpeper’s racist track education system pushed all the Black children out of the path toward Honors classes. I didn’t have classes with many of them, so when I was around them in the halls, in gym class, on the bus, I was marked different and a target. And, honestly I was different.
But, childhood was done. New experiences were safe. And, I trusted the Black femme who invited me.
There were five of us on the first day.
One was the first lady of a big Black church in Charlottesville, Virginia. Another was my friend who Oprah magazine featured for bringing dance and exercise classes set to Christian music to Black church basements all throughout Charlottesville. Another older lady was a social worker who served the Charlottesville community for close to fifteen years. Another woman passed on sharing about herself. And, there was me, an out of work Atheist.