You Owe Me An Apology!

Posted by in Diary | 6 comments

I was born and raised in the most “human” city in America. I’m a Baltimore girl through and through. My cell phone number still starts with, “410”.

I was the first-born grandchild, showered with love but weighted with responsibility. I was what the church folks called an “old soul”. Immaturity wasn’t a luxury afforded to me. I was a young black girl maneuvering the neighborhood’s of Sandtown-Winchester, 72- square blocks of layered history.

In the ’80s, my grandfather would love to boast of Baltimore’s most notable figures. I sang to Billie Holiday. I wanted to be as intelligent as Thurgood Marshall. And, I loved to listen to my mother recite Langston Hughes’ “Simple Stories” on the radio with Mary-Carter Smith.

Patricia Taylor-Joyner (right) That’s my mommy!

But, to this day, if I had to rank my all-time favorite superheroes, they would be:

1. Harriett Tubman
2. Storm
3. Okoye

And, this is why I feel we are doing a disservice to our youth.

Despite a litany of examples displaying the power of African-American’s, I was still constantly cautioned by those who “loved me the most” that my best would never be good enough. It became my expectation that I would be required to work 10 times harder than my white counterparts and receive 10 times less.

Now, as an adult, I wish I could say, “they were lying”. But, a 2016 survey by the Federal Reserve found a 10-to-1 difference in the median wealth/net worth of white and black Americans.

As a young black woman, it became my expectation that my feelings would be regarded less than my white counterparts, so I must remain friendly, steady my anger, watch my face and adjust my tone as not to offend or intimidate.

Now, as an adult, I wish I could say, “they were lying.” But, last year, six-time U.S. Open Tennis Champion Serena Williams received what she felt was an unfair penalty from the umpire. Naturally, she was frustrated, a reaction not uncommonly seen by male players. And, yet the bizarre escalation was a reaction far too common to racially conscious women who are intentional about the things they say and advocate for a.k.a Strong Black Women.

John McEnroe is an American retired tennis player, often considered among the greatest in the history of the sport. He was known for his confrontational on-court behavior that frequently landed him in trouble with umpires and tennis authorities.

I can still hear Serena, “You owe me an apology! You owe me an apology! I have never cheated in my life. I have a daughter and I stand for what is right for her and I’ve never cheated. You owe me an apology!”

I cried.

God knows, I cried…hard.

I felt the daggers of anger wielding through her words, my mouth watered as my body flushed with heat…I was in “fight or flight” mode.

Serena Williams holds the most Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles combined among active players. Her total of 23 Grand Slam singles titles marks the record for the most Grand Slam tournament wins in the Open Era.

It was then that the paradigm shifted. I closed my eyes, and I began to see chairs slowly disappear from a table. A table that all my life I had been told symbolized power, credibility, and success.

I heard the voices of “those who loved me most” and I realized that their teachings, though well intended, were preventing me from understanding my worth. And, as a mother raising three black boys in America, I would forever owe them an apology, if I didn’t become my own superhero.

I’m the rose that grew from the crack in the concrete/Proving nature’s law is wrong.

As I begin this new chapter in my life and career, I want to apologize to myself.

I underestimated your value, your power, and your influence. I made you believe that you deserved to work harder and receive less, I caused you to doubt your intelligence and your ability to effect change. I apologize for holding you back. Girl, you will NEVER lose your seat at the table because YOU ARE THE TABLE!

6 Comments

  1. Keep looking and pressing forward. The answers are in front of you, not behind. Run to your success!

    • Yaaaassss! I am going to make that a t-shirt…”Run to your success!!” Thank you Dana!

  2. I saw your spark when I first met you, nothing was going to hold back the brilliance that you are. Unless created in a lab, diamonds all come out of the rough

    • OMG! Jen. Are you trying to make me cry? Thank you sincerely.

  3. Beautiful I loved this piece strong sister. Carry on and thank you!

    • That is very kind of you Gail. Thank you for taking the time to share feedback.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.