I have a cousin…shes beautiful.
Growing up, she made sure I knew that she was the “better” one. She’s younger than I (by a matter of days) but on my fathers side, she was a gem. She(DK) along with another cousin(MK), took joy in bullying me and my other cousin(WK). Me and WK would have sleep overs and do our homework together. We were easy targets. I was the black girl who went to private school. I grew up on the north end of town and visited my family on the eastside. WK was easy to target because she could pass for white, case closed.
I remember going home and crying after leaving DK’s house. She was supposed to be my family, but she acted like she hated me. She was the token cousin, she was special, she had long straight hair with perfect brown skin. I was a rough and tumble kid with braids and no friends. Her family on her paternal side were well known in the church, and they had a huge family. On my mothers side I come from an evangelist and a missionary. My family was smaller though, a little bourgeois but thats only because of our view of the Peninsula Bay.
As time went on, after my parents divorce, I only saw the family on special occasions. Even then, she was judgmental, rude and treated me like a peasant. To this day, I have no clue what caused her to detest me so. But I got over it. And for a while, after I had my son, she was kind to me. We would talk here and there. I would read her blog, send her my love, and admire her. I knew it couldnt be easy having two very separate lives to live.I remember thinking that maybe she was mean because she wasnt happy with her own self… but that wasnt it.
The Riff the Broke the Camels Back
Donald Sterling and his infamous recording by his ex Vi set me off. I was in my second to last semester of college, majoring in Comparative Ethnic Studies. This recording pissed me off and I, like the majority of GenX’s took my complaint to Facebook. My comments were cool until this white girl with mixed kids decided to tell me and other black people to suck it up and accept the fact that white people called us niggers. I went IN on that ass, had a couple other people tag team, white black and Asian. In my anger, I used a plethora of curse words to drive my point across.
I take a step away from my post, I had a message from my cousin. I open it up, thinking its something about going to church, when I would be home again, hows the baby. NOPE! She let me know that she loved me BUT I needed to remove my profile picture showing my grandmother (the one that we share) holding my son. I was floored.
How could a Facebook profile picture and comments on one of my MANY politicized, curse word filled posts piss her off this much. I clapped back. She then said that our grandmother had requested the removal. Of course I didnt believe her because how could my grandmother, who birthed 9 children who all but 1 had been divorced, all of the men and one of the women had been incarcerated, one of my uncles was a pimp AND a drug dealer, another was a theif, another was a heroine addict, and two of them (including my father) had abondonded their wives and children. This grandma was telling me that because I used curse words, she wanted me to remove my picture of 4 generations?? The level of petty and bullshit pissed me off on a whole new level. And I let her know it.
I was offended and pissed off. I still am if I’m being honest. I dont look at her or my grandmother the same. I cant.
Time passed, we didnt speak. I was working in Seattle and so was she. After months of traveling I look up and she was on the same train. I made the mistake of smiling and trying to speak to her. That was met with a snub. It probably was my fault for not reaching out…
We spoke once, she told me she loved me and I told her I loved her as well. We went about our separate ways. She didnt want to sit with me and and my son on the train, the feeling was mutual.
I saw her last weekend at a conference that I was volunteering at. I gave her a hug, made light conversation and then avoided making eye contact or entertaining her presence after. It’s not that I dont love her, I just think its best to let it be like this. I dont feel awkward but I do feel that we have nothing more to build.
We dont know each other…
And yet, I want to have a strong bond with the black women in my family. Especially my generation. I dont know what I’m supposed to do, how I’m supposed to heal this…I’m hoping time will figure it out for us both.
Since loving is about knowing, we have more meaningful love relationships when we know each other and it takes time to know each other. – bell hooks