Thankfully because I’ve had more positive than negative experiences, I’m able to reflect on the negative rather than stew over them.
However, at times it gets tiring.
I just want to be.
I don’t want to deal with microaggressions.
I don’t want to have to constantly be aware of how I can be perceived and then try to break a stereotype.
Like being a single mom.
When I’m out alone with my children (which is often during harvest season as my husband is a farmer), people often assume I’m a single mom-even though I’m wearing a wedding ring.
A year or so ago, I visited a local church. We were considering switching churches and my husband was a musician, so he stayed behind to play.
As I was greeted kindly by a member, she asked if I was single and offered to help me with my children. My smile quickly turned into a stiff one as I declined her help, but asked for directions to children’s church. She thought she was being helpful.
What if I was single?
What good would have been to point that out?
Why did she assume that I was single?
When people assume I am single, I find some way to mention my husband. I ignore their microaggressions and watch their faces drop.
Not only do people assume I am single, but they also assume I am young & inexperienced.
Next year will mark my 10th year as a school year.
For some, they may assume the microaggressions that I am faced with is due to my good genes and the fact that I look young. Some would say that I am playing the race card, and the discrimination I face is due to other factors.
In some ways, I can agree. But my experience often tells me different.
As a young black female working in a small town, old racial tensions still run high through generations. I have had wonderful working relationships and conversations with parents on the phone, and I’ve noticed a disappointed smile when they meet me in person.
I was not the person they envisioned.
As a young girl attending church in a predominately white Baptist denomination, prejudice was present and very real. You would think that church would be the last place that misconceptions and discrimination would show its ugly head, but suprisingly, it’s not.
There were times that our youth group traveled to small towns and I was the only black person present. Most people were very kind, but I always felt like I was in the hot seat. Like all eyes were on me.
And then when we would break up in small groups, I would get questions like:
“Who’s your favorite rapper?”
“Do you know how to braid?”
As a young teen, I didn’t know how to deal. Sometimes I would cry and my friends just told me it would be okay. They had no idea what it felt like.
To be the only one plagued by these comments, questions, and stereotypes and be told that someone “didn’t mean it.”
And ironically enough, I married someone white. I married him for his heart–not his skin color.
Black and white people alike assume that I “have a thing for white men” and find them all attractive.
It shocks people that my husband is white.
I know this because people have a hard time hiding their surprised expression.
A few years ago, my husband and I were visiting his grandmother’s church and we stayed afterward for a meal. I was seated close beside him, and on my life was a black male we knew.
The pastor asked the black male to introduce him to his lovely wife and reached out to shake my hand. If I had been white, the color would have drained from my face.
Our friend laughed and told the pastor that his wife wasn’t present and pointed to my husband and informed the pastor that I was his wife.
We all shared an awkward chuckle and the pastor looked like he wanted to make a walk of shame.
My husband & I ignore the looks and the puzzled stares. We get lost in our love. We get lost in the two of us, and our beautiful family.
Microaggressions will come. Prejudice may show its ugly face. But I don’t live to please other people and make them comfortable. And neither should you.