Mindful Mondays, using past pain, and Adulting as racial sensitivity work

So, why bother: Why work and walk, when being who you were born still hurts? 

 1994 Baltimore, when I had finally secured the protection of a job at Space Telescope Science Institute, and was trying to make friends with co-workers, and forget my origins:

“There are people here who will not want someone who looks like you on their land.”

“The races don’t mix.”

Apparently, the South had risen, again, up in northern Maryland.  

Why bother, again?

Because Adulting includes the responsibility to strive for better. Better from oneself, and better from and for our world.

Though many up north do not recognize those of us whose families have always officially been labelled “colored” (as my birth certificate reads), yet called “mulatto families” informally, the resentment remains, and so does the pain.  Brown parties were real, but so were efforts to use our light skin for the good of our people.   Like my maternal grandfather, light enough to pass, but who kept his OB/GYN practice in SE when most DC doctors were avoiding the area, while other Black families, as my paternal grandfather did with his second family, left for white neighborhoods.  Both men fought in WWII and attended Howard University, yet both of their children, my parents, were rejected for being too light-skinned.  One parent railed against this rejection by both sides (particularly by the Puerto Rican commuity in DC), while the other parent went north and passed for white. Mostly.

The common good, or the general welfare, requires that we rise above our childhoods, rise above how we may have been treated, what we may have endured, missed, never had, and or had to do to survive to adulthood.  And being a true Adult requires that we commit, in my humble opinion, to making this world  more fully inclusive and safe for all of us.   To do that, we must continue to learn from our past, collectively and individually.  Earlier this week, I stumbled across something I wrote a while ago, that I am still working on striving to figure out how to use for the greater good:

This is an off-the-cuff post, as I need to get this off my chest in order to concentrate on the book  I am reviewing and the one I am writing, but this cuts into both like a hot rusty knife. The jagged edges left from the taunts of the kids in kindergarten and 1st grade of how I must be white because my mother is dating a White man, and my skin is so light, I look like a little wild indian.
Of dark-skinned girls saying how I had “that good hair” while not letting my play double dutch with them, and of feeling grateful to the one girl who “took up for me” in school for a short while.

And for another short while there was my mother’s Jewish roommate Susanna, the 18 year old who took me everywhere, while my mother was out with her White boyfriend every weekend, and often weekdays as well. The one adult who never said “stop asking so many questions!” Yet the one adult who really showed the fear I lived with: a NY police officer pulled us over and she looked at me

-don’t say anything smart alecky, because this cop is going to think you are my daughter, so he is going to think I’m dating a Black guy.

A that moment, I knew. There really was no place for me in this world, and there never would be.

Through all of the moves to different projects and evictions, through sleeping in cars, begging to be let back into the school program I’d been in before … then even while staying in a professor’s apartment as she traveled to Africa, grateful to have a place to stay that week before my internship, I knew I had no place in this world. And I knew that it would always be that way: too light-skinned to be included by most of my fellow Black people, even within my own family (“you know your grandmother only tolerated your mother because she was so light-skinned” -thanks, Uncle…), but always reminded by the white folks, like my first day of school in VA, that I am a “nigger,” and nothing will change that constant outsider-ness. Not even fleeing to another …

But I can try to help make this world a place where skin color and connections matter less. A world where no one ever sleeps on the street or fears for his or her safety, and thus a world where who you were born only means who your friends might (or might not) be, but doesn’t mean you are out on the street or fear for your safety.

So I work and I walk: I work for the Universal Basic Income that Dr. Martin Luther King called for, so that no child, black or white, ever has to fear the police just because of skin color, and no person ever has to sleep on the street for any reason, or go hungry, or come with hat in hand to ask anyone else for food, clothing, shelter or money for basic needs (and yes, a basic phone is also a basic need, as is free decent Public Transpo and Universal Health Care).

And I walk because a car (which I will admit to having fears of driving due to my PTSD, but I could usually keep that under control enough to pull over, back when I used to drive) also divides us economically, and any car takes money from public transportation. Yes, I am also lucky to be able to walk. And grateful. Ok, back to reading and writing…
Destinie (Shira… ? really?)
yes: Shira

Back-posting this so it shows only to my Readers… Written on Monday, March 11th, 12019 HE…

So, it turns out that a sense of belonging doesn’t magically appear with a good job, or upon graduation with a degree, nor even upon completing a major thesis.  Living among people who never missed a meal (involuntarily), nor had to worry about where they’d lay their head that night after the library closed or after finishing the grave-yard shift at People’s Drug Store in Dupont Circle, which meant dodging the dodgy folks on the way to and on the Metro platform.   Yet feeling their pity when finally opening up.  That alien sense that no one really gets it, and that those who do, still feel you to have been more lucky than they were:

you got out.

Action Items:

1.) Search for two different books, articles, blogs or stories, like Passing, perhaps, that show or tell the experience of being outside looking in…

2.) Share them with us in the comments, here, please.

3.) Share your thoughts on how we can build inclusive thinking to change this situation,

4.) Write a book, blog post or tweet that uses those thoughts, tells a good story, and makes a difference. I’m working on that through my historical fantasy #WiP, #WhoByFireIWill. If you write a book, once published, please consider donating to your local public library.

Dear Readers, ideas on learning, especially multiple #LanguageLearning, on-going education and empathy-building, to #EndPoverty, #EndHomelessness,  #EndMoneyBail & achieve freedom for All HumanKind

Support our key #PublicDomainInfrastructure  & #StopSmoking for CCOVID-19:
1. #PublicLibraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare, and
4. good #publictransport
Read, Write -one can add Stayed on Freedom’s Call via this GR button:

Yassas,   γεια σας!    Salût !  Nos vemos!  Görüşürüz!     ! שָׁלוֹם


December, 2020 CE = December 12020 HE

(The previous lesson 24/67 published since this post, and the most recent lesson 25/67…)

Creative Commons License
Shira Destinie Jones by ShiraDest is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

47 thoughts on “Mindful Mondays, using past pain, and Adulting as racial sensitivity work

    1. Thank you, Nan, but I am merely working to use my past to make meaning of my present, and to give definition to my future, in the context of our wider society. I very much appreciate your being here, and I hope that I can help inspire an awe of the incredible potential that we have, as a species, to build a world that works for all human beings (and every other creature on this planet, too).
      Very warmest regards and thank you, for your awesomeness, too.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. I think we as a society have an obligation to make sure there is room for everyone. Human differences will always exist, but those differences can be a reason to step towards one another rather than pull away. Hopefully a day will come when skin colour matters as little socially as whether someone is 5’8″ or 6’1″.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Ashley. I agree completely (especially being 5’2″ 🙂 !!). As they say, there is a difference between equity and equality, and those of us, particularly in your blog as you deal with mental health challenges of a very diverse range. We certainly have the ability to make room for everyone. Hopefully a day will come when we have the collective care for everyone to make it happen.
      In service,
      with love,

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Likewise, Ashley. I think you are right, and we just need to find each other.
          “We are at our best when we move together.”

          (To take a line from Delenn of the Minbari Federation, thanks to Babylon 5 and JMS…)

          Liked by 2 people

            1. Ah. Ok, that is good to know. Thank you. I’d been starting to get frustrated that I’m still getting nowhere in my searches for secular monasteries and similar organisations. If I can find a job up your way, I’m starting to seriously consider moving up there, as I’m no longer sure I can do much good down here.
              Unless I can find the local Anla’Shok representative, in which case I’ll gladly join them and become a Ranger!!

              Liked by 2 people

  2. I appreciate your placing justice work as under the umbrella of what we call adulting. I think a lot of people avoid participating in activism/advocacy because they are afraid they don’t know what they are doing, and to some extent, this caution can be healthy. After all, taking incorrect actions on important causes can cause harm.

    But there is a lot of information available about the movements that have come before and the current activism needed, so people who are motivated can figure out what needs to be done and take action on it. Adulting is about doing what is needed even when you don’t feel you know what you are doing, so this feels like a useful framing for activism/justice efforts too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Coolness! Thank you, Masha!
      I really appreciate your comments, particularly your clarity on Adulting being about doing. I was a bit worried about trying to redefine the word slightly, and this helps ALOT!!
      Thank you!
      Very warmest regards,
      and Safely Distanced Air Hugs,

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Masha!
      Yes, this was my uncertainty over the legitimacy of my Jewish name versus my given name, and my right to self-advocate in the first place, given my conversion’s acceptance in the Masorti and Reform movements, but not by traditional or orthodox people.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I would say it was my pleasure, but pleasure is not the right word, so, I shall say that I am honored by your appreciation. Thank you for letting me know that this is helpful, Quips. It helps me to know that my sharing this is useful in some way.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. True, and thank you for dropping by, reading, and commenting: I guess that’s why we keep working on helping to provide a bit of a solution to the problem(s), and why we cannot give up.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you, Bob: I’ve spoken with people who refused to believe that a Fancy could be suffering, since she ‘was treated better than the field hands’ because she lived in better housing. Yet, this image gives the lie to that idea, as you’ve pointed out.


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