“Came into this world
Daddy’s little girl
And daddy made a soldier out of me”
My great grandmother’s sister worked down south as a school teacher. She was light skinned and could pass as white. Across the street from the school, there was a hat shop. At this hat shop, only white customers were able to try on hats and choose to purchase one or not. The black customers had to buy hats that they tried on or touched. My great grandmother’s sister would try on as many hats on in that shop as she could since she was able to pass as white.
My grandmother’s father was a light-skinned man with light colored eyes. He could pass as being “white” as well. He worked as a painter at a hotel. One day, he walked into the hotel with the “colored” maids. His boss noticed and asked him, “Why did you walk in with the colored women?” My great great grandfather responded, “Well, they play cards with my wife.” Astonished, the manager replied, “Your wife, you mean to tell me you’re colored!?” He replied, “Yes, sir.” Then, the manager whispered, “Look, I like you, you’re good at your job, but don’t tell anyone you’re colored or we will have to fire you.”
I feel it is my responsibility to remember and pass on these stories so that their struggles are not pushed aside and forgotten. I feel that I hear so many people comment that, the past is the past, why bring it up? Somethings we need to remember. We need to remember, the struggle, the love, and the pain that got us to where we are today and why we are the way we are today.
If I could talk with them today, I would say how proud I am to come from such loving and strong people. That I am thankful for every time they pushed forward, how they supported themselves and their families, how they had pride in their self, and how they protected on another. RESILIENCE. That’s what created me.