Things My Black Friends dont know

Let me start off my saying – this is NOT an opportunity for all the AP’s or other well-meaning white folks who read my blog to give commentary about “those black folks” or to talk about whether or not my friends are ‘real friends’. If anything what I want you to get from this post is about what the distance from black culture does to TRA’s, and I simply need to express that at times people are insensitive to adoptee pain.

I just came from reading one of my homegirl Ji-in’s blog entries, and as I was sitting and reading, nodding my head vigorously, laughing about the 2 pairs of Birkenstocks I owned my damn self, and thinking about my own cultural ‘discrepencies’. (ok so what -I hate chitlins, I know every song to Annie, The Sound of Music, and My Fair Lady,  and – and… so what if I owned every freakin Amy Grant album from “Amy” the debut album in 1977  until about 1986 when I officially stopped believing the church had something to offer me. )

While I was reading over her entry, it came to my attention that I was having a recent flashback (of like 2 weeks ago) to two conversations that happened within one day of each other, and during the time they happened, I was like, what the hell is going on?

and I promptly put them out of my mind.

I was in the kitchen both times, (which at this moment makes me also remember a blog entry I’ve been meaning to do about black women, adoption and food) and both times, I was cooking something.  The first, I was making some soup, and one person who is very, very close friend of mine said something about the way I was collecting things to put in the soup. There were some leftovers from something else in the fridge, something that had NOTHING to do with the kind of soup I was making and this person said we could just add that stuff to the soup. I was like, ummmm, first of all, ewwww and also hell no because those left overs should have been thrown away 2 days ago, so my bad for leaving them in there. My friend looked at me and said, “As my daddy used to say, was you raised by black folks or white folks?” and laughed. Now I know what the laughter is, and culturally, I know that she meant that black folks dont throw away good food (but neither do poor white folks..but thats another entry) – but the comment first, rendered me speechless and second, hurt me so deeply that I could only stay silent.

what are you tryin to say?

The second incident, was also centered around cooking, and also with someone who is very close to me. I cant remember the circumstances in the same way that I could with the first incident, but they said, “well, thats because my momma is black“. the first thing that came to my mind. . .

what the hell is going on?

Both of these comments came within like a 2day period. I was so hurt that I said nothing. I wont next time, it just totally caught me off guard. Lisa, you’re being too sensitive. am I?

So, what are you tryin to say? I’m not black? I can’t cook? My momma cant cook? You wont eat my food because my momma cant cook? or because my momma’s white I cant cook? but my birthdaddy’s black so doesnt that count?

fuck you. and take your ass out of my kitchen. and dont talk about my momma.

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10 thoughts on “Things My Black Friends dont know

  1. I’m sorry that happened to you. I don’t think you’re being too sensitive. Just because you can explore your feelings about your adoption doesn’t make it okay to have it come back in the context of a joke! I am sure that, being your good friends, they love you and didn’t mean to hurt you. But they did. Even in this situation, Lisa Marie, it is amazing how you reach inside and turn your real hurt into a learning experience for the universe.

  2. Yuck. I can relate to those feelings. Sometimes it just takes your breath away, and there’s nothing you can do but be silent and simmer with a fat question mark over your head. And then later on, you ruminate on it and start to feel PISSED.

    I sort of think it’s like a double-whammy, because not only do those kinds of off-handed statements invalidate us as people of color, they are a dig against our parents, for their race. And triple whammy, it also works to exclude us from some sort of cultural club, based on factors completely beyond our control.

    It comes back to the question of authenticity, and who determines how or why *your* experience coming into your black identity is or is not an “authentic” black experience. Except that there is an underlying kind of blame that those statements place on your parents as well as you.

    To hell with that. They can eat their own damn expired leftovers in their own damn kitchen. If they have a problem with it, I say we tie them to a tree and sing show tunes at ’em until their ears bleed.

  3. I’m just sorta sitting here crying and laughing and nodding.

    Ji In, this is THE BEST response I’ve seen to ignorance in a LONG time.
    [They can eat their own damn expired leftovers in their own damn kitchen. If they have a problem with it, I say we tie them to a tree and sing show tunes at ‘em until their ears bleed. } Yeah!

  4. Hey, I grew up with two black parents, my biological ones at that, and still grew up on showtunes. BOOO to all the haters!
    My mother’s a Northern girl so we weren’t exactly raised on collard greens. If it wasn’t for my dad, I wouldn’t know much about black culture in the traditional (Southern) sense. And what I can relate to, not having grown up in that environment isn’t very impressive.
    As for your friends, now that you’ve had a chance to vent about it, you should call them on it. If they’re real friends, they’ll not only apologize, but change the way they talk (and hopefully think) about things.

  5. Ji-in – your comments get right to the heart of the matter – despite all of my diffuculties with my parents, ummm, they are STILL my parents! I love them and am protective of them like any person who has a loving relationship with their parental units. Its like I can talk about them if I wanna, but YOU cant! Its a delicate balance, like trying to help a girlfriend with a problem with her husband – they are still married – even if they have struggles!

    Further – the point of “factors completely beyond our control” is so RIGHT. Im certain my friends and fam dont consider the differences being a body that is adopted (ummm no I didnt inheirit that personality trait from grandma, and yes I recall the cousin who got to keep the antique desk instead of me when I asked for it years before) — and im certain they dont to hurt me – but you all know my favorite mantra – “intent doesnt matter” when you are still causing someone pain.

    The hills ARE alive…. dammit.. with the sound of muuuuuuusic….

  6. Well, I grew up with a black grandmother who would never throw food away, but I always thought that was because she grew up during the Depression. My house rule for leftovers always was “after four days, throw it out.” My husband (who is black as black can be – direct quote) will eat leftovers the next day, but that’s his limit. When I reheated leftover chicken stir-fry from Monday on Wednesday (last night), he seriously looked like he was going to throw up.
    So much for black people don’t throw away good food. We’ve bickered about it countless times.
    It made me mad and it didn’t even happen to me!

  7. […] What she’s talking about are the levels of adoption loss — the loss of a biological connection and then the loss of a cultural connection. If we adopt transracially/transculturally, our children become biracial/bicultural regardless of their biological roots. Both Twice the Rice and A Birth Project wrote about this recently (click the links). (American Family also just wrote about this in her infamous and hilarious Emergency Code Whitey entry.) […]

  8. When my black friends say things like that – I just think that is a part of black humor – and I don’t take it seriously.

    When they say it in a mean way and are especially insulting to whites – I just feel sorry for them – and realize that everyone can be as blessed as me and brother raised by a white man and a black woman – raised to know that stereotypes are just that.

    But maybe that is why it doesn’t hurt me because I know that I am a brown child born to a black woman and I never have to question my blackness – maybe my “differentness” but not my blackness.

  9. I think that when I finally start writing things for my children, my girls…things to help them through trying times with friends, things to hold onto as resources for spiritual strength and guidance, I will come back and paste this in. (Is that allowed?)

    I love Ji-In’s wrap up, but also suenos’ contribution on the consideration of black humor. Of course, context and tone set the stage and make all the difference. Hell, even how close we are to our periods, or the hours out of the rough day we had before the bumpy moment.

    Aren’t showtunes just so damned delicious?

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