4June06 Sunday 11:56pm
Quote - "Give me a man who sings at his work." Thomas Carlyle
Who knew that life would be like this when we grew up? Do you ever
notice that you relive the emotional stuff of your childhood
I've been able to compare some of the jobs I've worked at over the
years to my childhood. I can remember writing in my journal years ago
about an international theatre company I worked for. I remember
comparing the big boss limping into the building as my alcoholic father
coming home in a violent rage. The staff go into hiding mode waiting
for mommy (the general manager) to come and say, "It's okay kids.
Daddy's not drunk and he's in a good mood."
At my previous arts job, my silences were similar to when I wouldn't
speak to my step father for months at a time. At that job, I knew I
couldn't fight the system so I said nothing at all. As a pre-teen, I
didn't yet have the courage to stand up to my step father, so I drove
him crazy by ignoring him as if he didn't exist.
At my current job it's about being the odd one out.
In my childhood home I was the black child in a world of white siblings
(one older brother and two younger step sisters). Things were said
about black people that were unacceptable. My mother, a black woman,
was often the one who said the unacceptable things. The life my white
step father embraced implied the rest.
I always believed that my step father wanted to be black. He hung out
downtown at Rockhead's Paradise, a black owned establishment, that had
a predominantly black clientelle. The black men he hung with and
subsequently emulated lived a life of crime. My step dad's claim to
fame (before he went to jail for break and enter charges) was that he
was the most trustworthy coke dealer in Montreal. He invited every
sort of black criminal into our house - pimps, bank robbers, murderers
While the coke was snorted, the alcohol was mixed and the music played,
the discussions were primarily about the black world versus the white
world. The black man was doomed they'd all agree. My mother would
inevitably pipe in on how I would surpass black expectations and in the
next breath she'd discuss how I'd always struggle against being kept
down by a system built for whites.
In the daytime, my mother hated my nappy hair and made fun of it in
front of my white stepsisters with their easy does it hair. They had
the hair that most every black woman coveted (until we get in touch
with our roots) and every black man loves about his white woman.
I had no choice but to embrace my blackness other wise I'd have no
sense of a stable foothold.
In my day job there are moments of emotional similarities. I am the
only woman in a group of 13 or so men. They all love women obviously
but they are guys. They point out hot women and believe things about
women (not their wives of course) that are just plain stupid.
There are jokes about my singleness, why I should date a white guy that
only likes black women. One of them even went so far as to tell me that
a real woman has babies (No, he and I aren't close).
As the female representative that absorbs the messages, I can either
debunk a myth or perpetuate it. I choose to do neither. I choose to
embrace my femininity in my unique way with a ball breaking hard edge
and a warm mushy inner core.
I come face to face with what others believe of my type (black, single,
woman) and who I choose to be amidst the mixed messages. I see each
job, each relationship, each encounter as representing a layer of
myself as food for thought... and writing material.
Living in Inspiration