Dear Old Navy, It’s About Time

For those of you who do not know. I am a black woman.

When people ask “what are you?” I say I am English, Irish, Jamaican, and Gypsy. I often joke that I am the whitest black woman in the world.

What people don’t know however is how hard it is to be a black woman surrounded by white people.

Wanna know another secret? I have so many Jamaican relatives, some I don’t even know, that the idea of being with a Jamaican man terrifies me because I’m afraid he might end up being a cousin, or worse, a brother. You think I’m kidding – people always laugh when I say that. I’m not actually kidding.

In the Jamaican culture many fathers do not stick around long enough to get to know their children, let alone give those children a stable family home.

The first memory I have of seeing a famous black woman besides Oprah was Queen Latifah on Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper.

To this day I still remember thinking “She’s black! And she’s not super skinny, she’s so beautiful..and she’s on T.V.” I couldn’t have been more then ten years old.

Every time I see a mixed race couple on a commercial or even in a movie, I feel a tug in my heart.

I feel overly proud. When people harassed President Barack Obama and made horrible ridiculously accusations about his birth or his right to do a job that any white man could do without the same questions, my heart as a black woman breaks over and over again.

A few months ago Z95.3 helped me buy my mom a beautiful  pair of Louis Vuitton shoes from Nordstrom. It was a wonderful day, except for the security guard who kept staring me down because I obviously didn’t belong in a store like Nordstrom.

I don’t know if it was because I didn’t look the part, or if because I was black but the feeling is there all the same.

“But you live in Canada, there’s no racism here.” After I was raped at sixteen, the second of my many to come sexual abuses, I remember thinking my (now former) best friend’s brother screaming “White Power” when I went to talk to her about it.

I haven’t experienced a lot of racism, but I’ve experienced enough to know that the color of my skin actually does matter to a lot of people. Whether they like to admit it or not.

In Elementary school my bullies delighted in telling me that there was no way my mom was my real mother. They spent months trying to convince me that I was adopted. It worked for a little while and destroyed my seven year old sense of self.

Even as an adult mom and I still get strange looks when we are together. People are always shocked that a white woman could have given birth to a black child, let alone two.

Her response is usually something humorous and while at this age I’m able to laugh it all, it scratches at me later. It hurts to think that people think they have the right to ask if my mother is my real mother. It pisses me off to no end that people think I need to justify my relationship to this woman.

The fact that anyone thinks that in this day and age it is okay to boycott a company because they are promoting love breaks my heart.

It makes me sad for the children to come. It makes me wonder about how much you as a human being really understand what it means to know that in this day and age we have had a black President…in a country were black people were treated worse than dogs.

For those of us of color it isn’t about politics, it’s about the dream.

It’s about knowing that we as a people of color can be actors, or writers, we can go where we please, we have freedoms that our American Ancestors never dreamt of.

In the days of slavery our ancestors only prayer was that they would stay alive. Today our children can dream of doing anything they want, and they will know the color of their skin will not hold them back.

A hundred years ago black women were raped, beaten, and used as slave labor. Today a black woman has rights, she has fundamental human rights.

Martin Luther King Jr had a dream once too.

He dreamed of a world filled with love and peace – a world that did not judge by color, race, gender, creed, nationality, sexuality, size, or gender. That dream in some ways has come true.

However long the fight against racism has come, we still have a long way to go.

Black women are constantly making fun of white women for stealing our hair styles. Here’s a tip: Cornrows look stupid on everyone. Doesn’t matter what color you are they look ridiculous on women, that’s just my personal opinion.

Do you want to wear dread locks? Go ahead, I actually don’t mind. What I mind is you not knowing where they came from or why so many people get angry when they see white people sporting them. For the record I think those look mostly dumb too. That’s just me.

I don’t personally shop at Old Navy, because the clothes aren’t really my style, but I commend them.

In Jr. High we were asked to watch tv for an entire night’s homework and make a note of all the commercials with mixed race couples. I can’t remember a single one.

Today women and men of color no longer play subservient roles in television. Black men and women are not only cast as gangsters and thugs.

Our Indian, Islamic and Brown Brothers and Sisters however, are portrayed as terrorists and abusers of western culture. Yes we have come a long way, but until we treat ALL Races equally, we will not yet be free.

So Dear Old Navy, Congratulations for taking an unintentional stance against racism, for showcasing that families come in all colors. I hope you stick to your guns, because whether or not you know it, your commercial means a lot to those of us of color, even though you guys aren’t the only ones showcasing mixed raced families, nor are you the first, you are setting an example. For that I commend you.

With all my love,