If you can’t tell, I grew up Black. I grew up with 7 siblings. I spent my entire childhood sharing a room with my older sister in a cotton candy pink room. I didn’t get my own room until I was 18 during winter break and I was home from college. I only got the room because three of my older brothers had moved out. Even then, I felt like I was sharing my room because my niece was born and one of my nephews moved in and he refused to stay out of my room. But, that was family so who’s complaining? My nickname was Bighead. My cousins, aunts and uncles all gathered for holidays and pretended like it wasn’t awkward at some point. I was an honor student and a band geek. I went to neighborhood schools and was a neighborhood kid. A daddy’s girl and a brat. Sometimes we ate syrup sandwiches and sometimes we ate steak. My mom worked every single day and still cooked on her days off. She would come home yelling at us about how we tore up her house. On Sunday mornings our house smelled like bleach and incense. Oldies music or Quran blasting through the speakers. And as kids we all used to wonder “who’s coming over?” To which my parents would reply “somebody gotta be coming for you to clean?” In the winter we ate oatmeal or cream of wheat for breakfast.
Growing up Black for me meant hearing things like “pass me the remote, get me a glass with ice, go get my slippers, don’t be rippin’ and running through my house.” All phrases that we knew meant “this the last time I’m gone say it.” Growing up Black for me was being in the house before the street lights come on and taking your sibling with you to your friend’s house or the park because otherwise, you can’t go!
Growing up Black for me meant school shopping, layaway, and hand me downs. “You get what I give you or nothing, don’t touch nothing in this store, I brought y’all some so you bet not touch mine!” It meant “come outside and help me with these bags, wash the dishes and you better do the silverware.” A lot of my friends had Black childhoods similar to mine and many did not.
Words could never summarize the greatness that was my Black childhood but that’s why I have memories. Growing up young and Black taught me struggle, love, discipline, kindness, courage and everything that makes me who I am today. It was never a bad thing. We weren’t poor but by some measures we weren’t rich. But it damn sure taught me life lessons I’ll never forget.
Black and Blessed