I want you to know that I am here for you because on Sunday, I felt the pain that you must feel on a daily.
We from different hoods but we have a ton in common. We both from hoods that entice white folk to come and take over.
You and me are like Pusha T and Kendrick on that Nostalgia! That beat so hard, our bite so ferocious and our walk so swag ain't no one in the room have the guts to say anything!
Yet, with their looks, they want to tell us we don't belong. I guess they don't know that when provoked, Fire and Fury spit so hard that they need to "show gratitude in the presence of dominance" (Nas, 2018).
And, while we at it, that ignorance they push with their passive behavior got me for a minute. Like she said, "You even got me trippin', you got me lookin' in the mirror different. Thinkin' I'm flawed because you inconsistent" (Cardi B, 2018, Be Careful). But then, I'm reminded that because we are a force to reckon with, our peoples are always there for us no matter where we are. When we walk in, we meet eye to eye with those that are us! It's what Dr. Daniel Solorzano (My Mentor, UCLA School of Education) calls that moment when Folks of Color embrace, nod, wink at each other to acknowledge our collective presence because we all understand that look that white people give us because they feel threatened by OUR POWER!
While at a eatery in Venice that was recommended by a Homie for the good food, we experienced the moment of collective us and perceived white power. Arriving with my family we were starred down by the majority white people in the patio area. Because we felt what we felt and to diffuse the situation, I tell my husband to enter the restaurant to figure out how all this chaos works.
The moment I turn my back to enter the eatery, I feel a warm hand on my back. It's a a Black male who looks me in the eye, smiles, introduces himself and says, "how are you. My wife and I are leaving our table. I want you and your family to have it." I pause, look up and say, "dang brother that's what's up." He smiles again and because I know what's happening because he felt it too, we give each other that nod of acknowledgement. Once at the table, his wife welcomes me and tells me she hopes I enjoy the food. The Homie goes on to tell me that he loves my "Defend Boyle Heights" Bomber and my Raider hat. He says, "I knew when you got off that car, that you needed this table and we wanted to give it to you." I say, "Brother, I thank you and appreciate the validation for my existence in this place." We all looked around and knew collectively what that meant for us. My husband and baby now join us and before they part we hug.
My husband and I debrief the situation and look around. We both agreed that what we felt was real and raw. So raw and apparent that the brother and sister who gave us the table assured we knew what we felt was real by acknowledging the collective us and validating my family and our presence.
What then are the pause points in this experience?
1. Validate what you feel. Some try to tell us it's all in our head.
2. Interrupt Ignorance (Dr. David Stovall) when you see it happen to others. The bother and sister made sure we understood that we are not alone.
3. Don't hesitate to give the wink, the nod, the what's up to US (Dr. Daniel Solorzano, UCLA). In particular, assure we do it to those of US working the spaces that expose US to constant moments of ignorance. I validated the US in this space by saying hello and engaging in conversation with all the US I saw in the employees. I made sure they knew that they bring these places their magic and worth.
Taking this experience and the pause points enables me to reflect that I don't take L's when it comes to My identity. Like the OG's from Venice who live their truth, I'm Boyle Heights down to the way I sound, walk and talk. When in doubt, remind yourself of your purpose. My purpose is to create culture, help my peoples and be my authentic self.
So Venice, the next time you walk in the room no need to fret, Boyle Heights and my ancestors got you!
Power to the People,