The Art of Empathy

I almost walked past her, this perfect stranger, but I saw something on her face, in the downward cast of her eyes, that spoke volumes. “How are you doing today?” I stopped and asked. She had obviously been lost in her own world but I brought her back to a murky present. But she smiled … Continue reading The Art of Empathy

The ‘N’ Word

n word nieema fosterAs a parent I want to protect my children from anything and everything that could hurt them, but realistically that’s not possible. The best I can do is prepare them as well as I can for dealing with and overcoming those issues as they come up. Of course some of the biggest issues that could hurt them come from factors they have absolutely no control over, a fact that hurts even more because, even though I wouldn’t want them to change to fit someone else’s standard, at least it is a flexible thing. When someone hurts either of my children, for whatever reason, though, I am like a papa bear who wants to rip down the entire forest to get justice.

I knew from a young age that if I ever brought children into the world they would be judged, not merely on their mental capacity, or on their empathetic scale, or even on the style of dress they fancied, but also on the color of their skin. Even when I grew older and married a woman who just happened to be white, I knew that skin color would still be an issue, because our children would never be “just” white, so they would be different, especially around here. Yes, we’ve made some great gains in race relations and issues surrounding the tension therein, but prejudice still abounds, even if it is done more subtly now than ever before.

In the class photos you can see the differences, in the abundance of curly, kinky hair, in the fullness of the lips, in the curve of the nose. These characteristics she inherited from me, and I’m proud of that, that I can see some of myself, and of my heritage, in her, even just physically. She gets so much from her mother too, but the one thing that stands out most, especially when looking at the class photos, is her skin color. There is a bit of a Mariah Carey light mocha coloring she has that is so beautiful to me, but I know when others see it they have their own ideas. I will honestly never know why, but some people can’t stand what they don’t understand.

When we are out and about without my wife, it’s interesting to see how differently people treat us, and how they treat me in particular. We are a black family when I am with my children on my own. It’s plain to see when older black women smile at the kids, as if they were their own grandchildren, or when we pass older white couples who look at us like we’re a completely new species. These same older black women, and these same older white couples, treat us differently when we are all together. In fact, they tend to ignore us and go about their business. They don’t “get” us. They can’t wrap their brains around an interracial couple, a mixed race family, even now, in this day and age.

The first time I heard someone use the ‘N’ word I was probably about 8 years old and it was on my block, a place comprised of all black folk, and the term was meant to be endearing. Continue reading “The ‘N’ Word”

Checked Out: Week 20

It seems like the perfect storm this week when it comes to books for me. I already had Requiem, the final book in the Delirium series. Then Allegiant, the final book in the Divergent series arrived at the library for me. Not to mention I have to finish my book club book, The Sound of … Continue reading Checked Out: Week 20

When I’m Old

When I’m old I want to be vibrant To sparkle with life Not wither and fade Like weather vanes In a dry season I want to still dream These young man’s dreams To fall and rise again As persistent as time With its staid patterns Yet random in places Where you can find me Never … Continue reading When I’m Old

Childbirth Memories: 1995

hupTruth be told, I really hadn’t expected my sister to say yes, but after she did there was absolutely no way I was going to back out. I had actually been joking. You know, the type of joke where you laugh but the other person doesn’t. Yeah, my sister definitely wasn’t laughing when she said yes, and just like that I was going to witness a live birth. We were a month away from her due date but I got freaked out pretty much right away.

I was 18 at the time, having just started college that fall, and I had no clue at all about life beyond school. In fact, I didn’t even know much about school at the time either, having already missed multiple classes by that October. It was a whole new world for me, of parties, parties, and more parties. Eventually I knew I would have to grow up but that seemed to be in the far off future, something hazy to 18-year-old me. So, when my sister said yes, it was a huge dose of reality hitting me hard.

When I found out she was pregnant I was curious. I mean, for ages it had been just the three of us (my mom, my sister, and me), and I didn’t quite know how things would change adding someone else to the mix. And then there was becoming an uncle, something that seemed to me like an old person’s job back then. In fact, the first thing that crossed my mind when I found out was my own uncles, how solid and adult they were. I knew that wasn’t going to be me, not at first anyway. Maybe that’s why I asked to be there in the first place. Perhaps I knew even then that the experience would change me in numerous ways. Continue reading “Childbirth Memories: 1995”