Whitney Syphax Walker

Sometimes you grab an extra lovely sage bundle and smudge your home to clear it of negative energy, other times you say yes to a weekend sleepover with The Kid’s Bestie and let their combined laughter do the same thing.

-November 18th, 2016

 

As many of you know, I’m not working at the moment. I’m stuck in an uncomfortable (and familiar) waiting pattern: I’m waiting on unemployment to kick in, waiting to hear back from a few potential gigs, waiting on my lights to get shut off…you get it. Most days I drop the kid off at school and run around the city until it’s time to pick her up again. I’ve done a pretty good job of not letting her know how dire our situation is, but tonight…tonight I broke down. We were riding home from rehearsal and she began fiddling with this cute little pen I bought her a few days ago and snapped it in half. I snapped right along with it. I let it all pour out on her 12 year old little lap. She cried. I cried. I promised her we would be alright, because we always are, and I told her that this ain’t even the roughest patch we’ve been in. She apologized for breaking the pen, and in that moment it seemed like the tiniest, cheapest thing in the whole world.

We’re home now. Dinner has been eaten and she’s getting ready for bed. While checking off her chore chart, I noticed that she updated the rewards. $1, $2, and $3 has been replaced with “hug”, “kiss”, and “”one night in Mommy’s bed”. To “help out”, she says. Because “We’ll do it together.”

I think in the daily stress of stretching out the savings I have left, I forgot how very rich we are.

Anyway, I promised my child that we would be alright, and I keep my promises. Tomorrow is another chance. I’ll press my good dress and try it again.

-September 15th, 2016

 

Today, at Camp, a white boy who Zoë has been having trouble with called her a “little bitch”. She responded in a way that was strong enough for a camp counselor to tell me that there was an altercation, but Zoë is too ashamed to tell me exactly what she said or did.

This is when parenting a Black child becomes difficult. Zoë said that her new white friends all ganged up on her and took the boy’s side, and that she felt overwhelmed and afraid. I’ve been there. She said that she felt like she needed to defend herself because she felt alone and unsafe. I’ve been there too. This is her first time being in a predominantly white school setting so it’s

all new for her. I grew up in it. I understand the nuances of it. She wasn’t prepared. I didn’t prepare her. I feel partly responsible.

We had two conversations in the aftermath, one being your typical “Did you tell an adult/counselor/teacher what was going on?” conversation, the other a much firmer “Don’t ever let them knock you off of your square so hard that you lash out.” conversation. I explained to her that We can’t afford to lash out, that our consequences often don’t match theirs. I told her that her fear and defensiveness will often be dismissed as aggression, and that she can protect herself by checking in with a responsible adult after each act of violence and disrespect. I acknowledged her pain and anger and said that both were valid. I told her about the time in 4th grade at Shrine when my “best friend” of two weeks walked up to me and said she couldn’t be my friend anymore because I’m Black. How later that school year she spat at me and called me a nigger. How my brother tried to talk to her brother about it and how the boy made chimp sounds at him until he walked away. I told her how badly he and I wanted to fight, but how we knew we couldn’t because we’d be blowing our shot at attending the school that our parents were sacrificing so much for. Zoe and I then talked about how pain makes you want to fight sometimes, and how we have too much to lose to give into the urge.

Finally, at the very end, we had my favorite part of the whole talk. I promised that in exchange for her honesty and effort, I’ll always be ready to ride up there and turn that place out on her behalf. I thought that was understood, but I didn’t mind verbalizing it for her.

She still wants to finish camp, and she wants to attend this school for high school. I want that for her. We have two more years of preparation.

Woosah in advance.

July 14th,2016