I've been doing a lot of life altering contemplation lately, and I've come to the realization that I've been grossly miseducated throughout the expanse of my life. And I'm not talking about the typical black folk miseducation that we harp on all the time. Rather, I mean the specific miseducation that I have encountered in my personal life. Granted, in a lot of instances, these two overlap, but there is a difference.
I have been taught/told/made to believe a gang of untruths that have unfortunately been permanently tattooed in the fibers of my being, and I don't think I realized their vast effect on me until now.
The "lessons" I was taught:
1. The black woman will forever have to strive to be as good as/pretty as the white woman.
2. No matter how much education I receive, I will always be inferior…to everyone.
3. If I don't go to college, I can't expect to succeed in this world, or make any positive choices in my life.
4. The most important accessory a woman can have is a man.
5. A woman needs to fight harder for her relationship because, of course, she's the strongest.
6. Once a dog, always a dog.
7. If I like sex, and ESPECIALLY if I'm good at it, I MUST be a ho, or in serious need of some therapy.
8. Having a college education/degree guarantees "safe passage" in the professional world.
9. If I let him come back after he hit me, I MUST have been a dumb b****, (as opposed to mentally and emotionally damaged).
10. In order to keep my daughter from making my same mistakes, I have to control her.
11. Money is not important.
12. Men are supposed to/willing to/will continue to take care of you.
13. Young love is not real love.
14. I'm/You're beautiful.
And my all-time favorite:
15. If you do what you're supposed to do, treat people how you want to be treated, live accordingly, and stay out of trouble, you will have a good life.
Clearly this list could go and on, but the point is, my environment, my experiences, my choices, my peers, my family-all of these factors have taught me these and many more lessons that I have lived and based my life on. I have concluded that this is real effed up.
I'm not by myself. The list differs from person to person, from environment to environment, but the principle is the same: We learn and exist based on what we know. What we've seen. What we've heard and believe.
I think the saddest for me is the realization that I've passed many if not all (and more) of these "lessons" to my children, my daughter especially. We learn by example, and she watches every move I make, patterns herself after me. She's exceptional in every way: honor student, talented and gifted, college prep school in fifth grade, now in the ninth grade and getting her high school diploma and her associates degree at the same time.
But what happens when the day comes that she falls in love? I was 14 when I fell in REAL love. Fourteen. She will be 15 in less than five months. Her father is a deadbeat…will she look for him in every boy/man she experiences? Have I taught her enough? Cuz I know I've done a piss poor job of leading by example in that department, and I'm not ashamed to admit that. But I also let her see my reactions, let her see my recoveries, let her see me walk away and rise above. Will that be enough?
From the time you take your first breath, life is teaching you how to exist in its space. Your parents, your home, your school, your friends, your environment, your education, your mistakes, your accomplishments, your failures…it all has a direct effect on who you become and the legacy you carry forward.
Wow…that is deep…