20 September 2007

What Did You Wear Today?

Wear black, they said. I was down with that. The only problem was my limited wardrobe. The first black shirt I put on I took off some minutes later when I noticed that some thing took little bites out of it when I wasn't paying attention. There was only one other black top I could wear and it's been sitting in the closet for a good two years. (I kid you not! I am a woman who prefers jeans, shorts and flip flops to clothing considered fashionable.) I prefer not to wear black in real life. Black only looks good on women whose looks need no assistance from their clothing. I am not one of those women. Today, I made an exception. Black clogs. Black skirt. Black top. I wanted to pull the locks back too, but everything I use for that purpose is colorful. The locks were set free for today.

At work, I saw only one other black person in black. What's that about? There aren't many of us there. Still, word gets around. Others knew, but chose to resist. One brotha, who was apparently too much of a punk ass to tell me his reasoning, told someone else that people didn't know the whole story. What did he tell me? I'm Jamaican, not black. This was the first time in many years that the words "Uncle Tom" came to mind.

My mother hadn't heard about the call for black. I told her, in complete seriousness, that she would get a pass. She'd already experienced enough in her 76 years. As far as I'm concerned, her generation has nothing to prove. They lived it. Nevertheless, when I saw her later in the day, she was in black. She was nice enough to mention she was even wearing black underwear.

When I was in college, I took a history class that finally provided me with a comprehensive overview of the Civil Rights struggles in the 50's and 60's. I remember calling home and asking my mother if she'd participated. When she said she hadn't, I think I had the nerve to be appalled. I assumed every black person in the country rushed to the South to be part of the protests. Now, I'm a mother who's cognizant of the history being made in Louisiana of late. And . . . I get it. I wore black out of solidarity. It's not like I was going to get on one of the buses going down there, not with a job, a husband and a child in school. I realized that some of us must continue to live our lives while the others man the front lines. I'm the same woman my mother was in the 60's. I've got to take care of mine and yet support the struggle as best I can from afar. I wore black. My husband wore black. My mother wore black. I took my son to school, went to work, picked my child up, and went back to his school later for Open House before finally taking off all this black. Today, that was the most and the best I could do.

No comments: