Disclaimer: I feel embolden to remind anyone reading this blog that this is a blog that examine life from the Black American (who are descendants of Chattel slavery) experience. I don’t apologize for it. That’s my voice. In this space, that voice will always be first and respected.
I went home for the holidays. I had not been home in about 4 or 5 years. Home for me is Chicago. A beautiful city. A hauntingly beautiful and inspiring city. A city that has been divided. A city where Black Chicagoans have to fight to get less than their fair share. A city where redlining and the racial wealth gap is shockingly obvious and ever so prominent. A clusterfuck of racial injustice and unrest. Nevertheless, this is indeed my home. I was born, raised, and educated in Chicago. I am forged of ChiTown steel.
It did my heart good to see my family and friends. I rode along Lake Shore Drive with glee because I remember taking Lake Shore drives in the summertime. As I turned to my child to narrate the various places I had been, the places that shaped me, I noticed that a part of me wanted to turn in on myself. There was still trauma there after all this time. A part of me is still healing, in real time. I’ve been gone for a long time. I left because I felt like I was dying while awake. I wanted to live. I also had endured so much hurt and loss that I couldn’t bear it anymore. The grief was eating me alive. When you grow up alone, and you are alone, without a large support system, trauma can swallow you whole. And I had my pain consume me, but I left and turned it into kinetic energy.
That’s what adulthood is to me… It is working through your childhood trauma and trying to forge a better life. There is no “Ubuntu” in America for Black Americans except in our own community. And then sometimes, it is still not there. For some Black American people, your entire life is surviving racism, colorism, classism, and wealth inequality. Then by the time you find some rhythm, internally you are weathered. Your health begins to fail. Because we as humans were not designed to take the relentless level of microaggressions, stress, and abuse.
And I, like many, found that over achieving was a way to minimize the pain of poverty, of not feeling good enough because I was dirt poor, of feeling inclined to suffer injustice because America demands Black American people be punished for just being alive. And yet I survived it all. I managed it all. I tried hard to over achieve it all.
And here I sit. As I write these words, I am still in the thick of it.
So be easy on yourself if you haven’t figured it all out. Be easy on yourself if adulthood has not been smooth sailing. Trust me, being barred from creating generational wealth, having to fight racism in your country, and surviving the best way you can — is all that we can bear.
I pray we all heal. I pray we all get the love we deserve. I pray we do not harm anyone in the process. Let’s us not break another Black American person for we are all healing in real time.