I woke up this morning with this thought, the title of the post,
in my head, probably because it ties into so many other things
that I have been thinking about, as usual.
Thinking. Thinking about Michael Jackson, about stolen
childhoods, about adult onset addiction and what it means
to live in a culture that doesn't have a language to grieve.
Thinking and observing the ways in which we are dealing
with Micheal Jackson's death. Thinking that if we do not
deal with our history as a people,as Americans, as Black
people, as the children of abusive people, we will be
trapped in it and triggered into our childhood fears
whenever any new loss occurs.
A dear friend of mine has been recently doing work on dealing
with his childhood. It's painful to watch, yet awesome because
I suspect it will make him a more human human. Often times,
I don't know what to say when he tells me about making a
connection between something janky from his childhood
that carried over into his adult life, so I just sit there speechless
and attentive, trying to be a good friend.
My father has both struggled with an addiction for twenty years
and he also works incredibly hard everyday to maintain his
sobriety. Four years ago, in July of 2005, he came back east to visit me
and to reconnect with his momma and forgive her for giving
him up for adoption. It was incredible. In watching him do this,
instead of telling me who a man, a human was, he showed me.
He showed me the power of forgiveness.The importance of humility.
He showed me the gift of not harboring resentments. He showed
me that if he could forgive her, then I should forgive him, if I
already hadn't. He showed me that adult Black men, that men,
did in fact do the necessary emotional work to get their family
lives and emotional lives in order. Despite what CNN's Black in
America, the Black intellectual or Black Politician du jour
This visit is material because my grandmother died in March of
2007, just two years after that visit.
You and I know that there is nothing quite like a person dying
before you can tell them, I am sorry or I forgive you.
He showed me that a man, a man who has dedicated his life to
healing his own wounds from 20, 30, 40, or 50 years ago must
make it a priority to deal with the events from childhood that
never have been addressed, or else he will be trapped by them.
It was on this trip that my father noticed that I was "angry." Of
course I was. Anger is often times the only emotion that we
are permitted to have publicly. Yet, there is a caveat for Black
women, as we are presumed to have attitudes and be angry
often times before we even open our mouths. This
of course is rooted in myth of Black women that go back to
slavery. Damn near everybody in East Oakland is angry and
with good reason. East Oakland houses the bodies that
capitalism no longer needs, (to a greater or lesser extent.)
But trip, I wasn't in East Oakland. I was in downtown Brooklyn,
bourgie as all get out, about to get married and go to law school.
What did I have to be angry about?
Well, in the ensuing months, the angry ripped through some
more relationships and played a huge role in my ability to adjust
to law school. It also played an active role in killing two relationships,
and in killing credit score (which was perfect when I started) by
shopping instead of dealing with the grind that is law school by
developing new tools to cope. Instead I tried to assimilate into the
existing culture of play hard and work hard and I became a little
bit to comfortable with cappuccino's in the morning and Black label
at night and trying to read four hundred pages in between.
Some days I failed miserably, on others, I knocked it out the box.
However, the above three tendencies were bad for the wallet,
bad for the kidneys, bad for my eye sight. After Dee Dee got
stolen in Prospect Park, and I moved back to the Bay, it was
clearly a sign that I had enough and I started to deal with
how I reacted to the anger triggers head on. That was fun.
Anger is a drug, anger is also a secondary emotion that is usually
a cover for how we really feel. When I accepted that, I became willing
to be the person that I was put here to be, not the person
reacting to twenty years ago, and certainly not the person
that my friends or family thought I should be.
Every since I learned of Michael's death, I have been thinking about
childhoods and the way we grieve or don't grieve in our society.
I have been thinking about how he provided the soundtrack to
our childhoods, yet he was denied one.
This post is for the kids who had no childhoods. For the Michael
Jackson's of the world who for one reason or another got robbed
of theirs. To be fair to my parents, I had an awesome childhood, until
Crack came, that is. It was awesome and irreplaceable. Both pre and
post Crack, I couldn't or wouldn't change it, it made me who I am.
I only hope that for anyone reading this who may see a little
Michael Jackson getting robbed of his or her childhood,
steps in to do something.
No one stepped in for him.
The Road Less Traveled
All About Love
No questions for this post.
A little too deep, feel me?