Each morning I wake up, I work hard to not take it for granted that I am here. The realities of death and life are more poignant as I get older. I am so grateful for this moment of reflection. The fog of the morning beckons me to be still and sing praises to the Most High. I am in Prospect Park where the chirping of the birds and the gentle waves of the lake are soothing. The intermittent passing of ducks on the lake and birds flying low so that their wingtips touch the water leaves me in awe. And every time a bird flies close to me, so close that I can hear the fluttering of their wings, I feel even more blessed.
This afternoon, I laid in savasana, the final yogic pose in a yoga session where your body is completely at still, and I listened to the words of Ben Harpers song, I am Blessed. I have never hard that song before and it was a sweet addition to my day, which I took off.
Yesterday I celebrated my birthday with a birthday brunch. It was lovely. It wa perfect. In savasana listening to Ben Harper’s words and the drums playing, I could not resist the tears forming under my closed eyelids. There is no denying the blessings that I have.
There are times in my life where I revisit and wonder about alternative endings. This often includes my involvement with men, who on some level I loved.
We’re often told that looking back is never a good thing but on nights like this, when the air is heavy and all is still except for the sound of the fan, I cannot seem to control my mind from wondering.
I finished Americanah today. I found myself crying and laughing throughout the last chapter. It ended beautifully. After closing the book, I began this fantasy, in my head, about having some way to write Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie, as if she were a good friend, to really encourage her to turn the book into a mini series. Of course Lupita Nyong’o would star in it and it would be set in Nigeria, with flashbacks. I still haven’t determined who would play the other roles…but Chimamanda may want to have a say in it.
I mourned the end of the book and felt as if I was no longer in the Unites States…Jamaica felt real to me. The heat today of course helped. It felt like the Caribbean.
Home is indeed calling.
You know a book is really good when you reach the final chapters and you want to savor each page and
especially want to wait for the best opportunities to read the book –a setting has to be perfect. And yet, although so selective for perfect moments, you can’t wait for the next moment to pick up the book.
I have been working on being better to myself for about 2 weeks now. I found out recently from my doctor that in addition to having high blood pressure, I am pre-diabetic, have very low Vitamin D levels and anemic. I have since lost 7 pounds in the two weeks and have increased my veggie intake and stopped buying breakfast and lunch from the community I work in. East New York is a food dessert. Sodium is often high in the food and almost every other thing is fried… even if the end result is a stew.
Ironically, my current weight (after the 7lb loss) is the same as I was a
approximately 10 years ago when I begun the journey of losing 70 lbs. After losing that weight and then suffering from an injury and a broken heart, I went right back to food. The way in which I lost the weight was healthy but exercising became my obsession; it became my new vice in a lot of ways and I didn’t deal with the real stuff: the internal self hate and feelings of unworthiness that led to the overeating. I can say that more and more I feel and see the connection between how I treat my body and the love that I feel about myself and the way in which I allow others to treat me.
So, as I sit here in the Prospect Park looking upon the water, I pray for physical and spiritual healing and I am grateful for each moment, each opportunity to start anew.
This past Saturday, I stood in front of my friend Megan, in Prospect Park, with tears streaming down my face, feeling open and raw as I shared with her the pain and hurt that I have been feeling around my experiences with discrimination and racism. I am Jamaican, black and living in America. Although I have lived in this country more years than I have lived in Jamaica, I had the privilege to experience what it meant to be a majority in terms of race there. I wasn’t judged or treated unfairly due to my skin color. People weren’t afraid of me before they got to know me. That was a privilege I took for granted.
I arrived in this country, to live here permanently, in my teens and was pretty sheltered all the way through college, I would say. With each possible experience with racism and discrimination in my twenties, I was a bit shaken but I think I bounced back quickly from all (but one of those experiences) because part of me believed that if I did the “right thing”, I would be spared the brunt of what happened to others who look like me (mainly my African-American brothers and sisters) have to go through. Somewhere, somehow, I was fed this lie that being a Caribbean black and educated would give me a pass. It was a subliminal belief. I have now come to realize that it was belief planted by people from my community, by the media and enforced by others who when they heard that I was Jamaican then placed me in the “model minority” category, reacting to me differently. “Oh, you’re from Jamaica, that’s why you have such a good command of the English language.” Yup, someone said that to me once.
So, what was the perceived “right thing”? Well, it is being formally educated — attending college, it’s speaking “properly”, it’s being eclectic in musical and reading tastes and mostly importantly, it is playing small. And in the space that I am to play big, it is only to create laughter and joy…not bring the heavy stuff.
These “right ways” of being have not, however, stopped me from being followed in stores, being assumed to be the maid in my neighborhood, have a potential roommate turn away from me once she saw me or not be able to get cabs, etc. This is compounded by how other people of color (some who share my skin tone or who are darker) treat me with disrespect and make assumptions about me because of I’m black. It doesn’t matter that I have a Masters, or that I served as an Americorps member. The constant tale of what it means to be black in this country prevails me. The fact that I am now informed of the injustices that occur (like this one and this one, and this one and this one) is often not helpful but darkens, a little more, the side of me that is becoming jaded. And yes, there are blacks who are racists, xenophobic, homophobic but the truth is I am not. The experiences that happened, happened to me. I have been treated unfairly for no other reason but the color of my skin…and although I may share, more than likely, the same education and income level of my white neighbors and yes, some of my Asian neighbors (who yes, face racism too but that model minority category lends a hand), it doesn’t matter. That was a hard reality for me to face.
After my conversation with Megan, I asked myself, what changed? I mean I have experienced racism before, why is it affecting me so much? And my answer, I have removed rose-colored glasses from my eyes.