Childhood Races


* This entry is heavy, but I hope you'll brave the discomfort, whoever you are, to read it and then reflect on it, calling upon the Higher Power you believe in, to show you what is true, and how you may show up to serve the problems we face as a nation. End Complacency.

In my book, soulnotskin, my initial editor suggest I leave out my experiences of pain regarding race as a child. I was coached to stick to my difficulties around being gay and loving god, divorce, alcoholism... I was told that was plenty to focus on and race was not my issue to speak on. And I adhered to the suggestion because I thought, maybe she's right. But you know what? I can't lob off parts of myself anymore than you can. And maybe it's the 'staying out of the conversation' that has led to where we are at. My experience is all that I have, and any misstep I take in telling it is a mistake born in ignorance, but created in love, and open to amendment. It matters that I wear a white face and ache deeply for the way our country treats my brown and black sisters and brothers. It matters that I recognize my anger has a power and privilege and responsibility attached to it.


At this moment in time, I feel compelled to share some of what hit the cutting room floor, so to speak. None of us are free of the impact of the many strains of virus that have us so sick as a nation. Strains that concentrate in deaths of the ones among us with the least power - The strains are patriarchy, capitalism, toxic masculinity, objectification of women, homophobia, religious persecution, and last but NOT least, racism. These strains of the virus FEAR seem to have encoded themselves into the DNA of our Human Family. The costume of skin we were born into determines how the illness affects us.

In America, regarding race, I am not the victim.

In America, compassion born of my experiences, coupled with the privilege I enjoy, situates me in a place of responsibility. My compassion is not enough. My voice and my action is critical. Racism and it's deleterious by products are shot through the human experience in ways we've long delegated to our subconscious.


No more. Get conscious. Choose Justice. Act Accordingly with your voice, your political power, your dollar and your resources. "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me"


Not everyone is an activist. But choosing to speak up in the company of misinformed language regarding others, if you haven't in the past, is progress. Considering how you vote as if your child were black, is progress. You don't have to be in the streets, just make a decision to do better SOMEHOW than you did yesterday, considering those with less power in our human family.

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This and other parts cut from my novel, soulnotskin:

"I knew that the films we watched about Jim Crow South were horrible. The snarling white faces that held up signs with ugly things written on them, I just knew they were confused. “Go back to Africa, you are not made in the image of MY God!” These handwritten slogans would stare back at me from the black and white photos in my school book. I felt the heat of shame like lava erupting through my skin suit, exposing me in those moments, but I never caught flak from my peers. They didn’t see me that way somehow.


I wondered how those signs came to be hand crafted in someones home? Why were they allowed to make them? I would imagine the white picketers at home, pre-protest, gathering their markers, carelessly laughing and creating signs with horrible things written on them, their mom cooking macaroni and cheese and serving it up with an apron and a smile. The white mother shakes her head at boys being boys. As a female she would offer them juice and say nothing, because their gender allows them a freedom of speech she does not know.


Care-free, sunburnt white teens boys in freckles shovel her food in their mouths with no thank you’s, and they talk past the imminent protest as their plans to go fishing tomorrow are more interesting… how could they be so apathetic, and look like me?


This was not my experience of being white, but this is the image I saw on TV. Characters and home lives that were seemingly unaware of or else fully detached from the pain and suffering of others. White people who have the social influence to do something about it, but don’t appear willing to risk the weeknight brisket on speaking up. I assumed others associated me with these trivial home life scenes, and the charge of shame may have become my first addiction.


The idea that the brown world expects me not to know, not to care, not to hurt or see what’s happening because of what I look like. I wanted to be darker than I was. I wanted fuller hair and parents who would hold me when I was called names at school. My parents had never been called the things I was called. They couldn’t comfort my anguish. I knew that so I sat on it. With all of this hanging on my awareness, I’d become a very pensive girl.


I wondered how people could become so detached from what is decent? That kind of ugly originates much deeper than the facial muscles. Its roots reach back several generations. Small white babies learning how to be adult males by drinking too much, abusing or raping black and white women, whipping, beating or killing human beings through slavery and other social illnesses that babies were too close to God to understand as social construct. Perhaps traumatized by the self-loathing alcoholic father, the child witnessed the abuse, loving the dark victims and but wanting to fit in with Pa. That kind of ugly was generations of confusion crawling through their expressions.


Realistically, we are all living in alternating seasons of joy and pain as we collide. Realistically, we will always collide with other people as we move toward what we think will make us happy, or run from that which hurts us. All the noise in between is the expression of countless egos as they drive around blindly in the fog of physical reality, telling spirit to get in the back seat and shut up. Even when people are discussing God, often they do so in pretty cars, while asking God to shut up in the back seat. Ego creates the fog - it is the storyteller. It builds narratives based on what we have not and accuse those we haven’t met for keeping us from it. We camouflage our own responsibility to take action in our lives in the blame we drape on others. And we shake our heads (at them).


So. White mothers are quiet when their boys write signs with ugly slogans because her husband says the boys are right. She cooks for them and she feeds them, but she never says a word. I imagined the faces of anger and judgement were really confusion and fear. Young men doing and saying things that didn’t feel good coming out of their own mouths but had become necessary language and attitudes to avoid drunken fathers with shotguns and belts who wouldn’t put up with them N-Words, or any N-Word lovin’ son of a bitch son. These fathers are just as confused, doing what doesn’t feel right to maintain some status in a poor community and drinking ambitiously toward alcoholism to calm the dissonance. The mask. Wear the mask long enough and you will grow into it. We all do.


As kids we could see that we looked different, but in grade school, skin color had less of an impact on all of us than it began to have in junior high and high school when the world and its ideas started to necessitate our consideration.


The only little white girl in a primarily middle-class black community, I felt ugly growing up. I was pale and skinny, and my hair was stick straight alongside developing, dark girls with full hair decorated in colored balls, ribbons and barrettes.


I grew new, heavy branches on my deeply rooted tree of shames when I noticed I could be mistaken at first glance as a sign-holder. Born to a uniform of blonde hair, blue eyes, and white skin worn like a team jersey, race determined I belong the team I most look like.


But only my outsides matched. Inside I didn’t want to. I wanted no part of the game if I needed to wear the jersey of those fathers. That history. I found something else to live in constant apology for. I’m sorry I look like I’d hate you. I’m sorry I look like someone who has hurt you. I’m sorry I represent or trigger a history of abuse and oppression upon my skin and an assumed obligation to maintain it. I don’t. I won’t.


I love you."

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In America, regarding race, I am not a victim.

In America, compassion born of my experiences, coupled with the privilege I enjoy, situates me in a place of responsibility. My compassion is not enough. My voice and my action is critical. Racism and its deleterious byproducts are shot through the human experience in ways we've long delegated to our subconscious.

No more. Get conscious. Choose Justice. Act Accordingly with your voice, your political power, your dollar and your resources. "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me"


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© COPYRIGHT  |  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED  |  Jen SluMac  |  soulnotskin  |  2016 - 2021