She smiled gently while wiping your runny nose. She lovingly kissed the hurt away the day you fell and scraped your knee.
She carried you on her back and sang songs in a language you didn’t understand but you found it soothing to your ears and you fell asleep. You were nestled in the towel and blanket listening to her heart beat while she cleaned the house.
As you grew older you would see her at your school gate or walking down the street and you would run to her with your arms opened wide. When you were discomforted or hurt, it’s not your parents arms you wanted around you but your “mother.” The one who fed you and bathed you. The one who would rock you to sleep and patiently tell you stories that fascinated you. Stories about her childhood, about her life. A life you would never know but the images conjured up in your head made you want that life.
You counted yourself lucky that your “mother” was there because she spent time with you and loved you. Your chubby arms would nearly choke her while you whispered loudly how much you loved her.
The light shone out of her eyes among the tears because she loved you too and treated you as if she had given birth to you. It never felt like a job to her because you were there and often she would stay because of you.
Then one day it all changed and the light went off in your life.
You were told you are better than your “mother.”
You were told not to offer her a drink from “those” glasses but to fetch her the “special” one that only she drinks from.
You were discouraged from being too close to her.
Nothing was specifically said to you but you felt and started seeing how your parents or siblings treated her so you followed suit.
You stopped the hugs, you stopped saying how much you loved her. You stopped saying please but instead demanded when you wanted something from her. Thank you was no longer in your vocabulary when dealing with her. You didn’t have to say thank you because it was her job, her duty to see to your needs.
Soon she stopped asking you to pick up your clothes or to behave because you told her you don’t have to listen to her, she’s not your mother.
And so the light that shone so bright between the two of you became dimmer as you grew older. Darkness started seeping into the bond you had with her until you couldn’t see any light but a poc person standing in front of you waiting for more orders.
When did the lights go off for you?
I ask because when your parents nagged you about a friend who was a bad influence, you defiantly remained friends with that person. You never listened when the dominee at church told you to love everybody. You did love though but not her or not as much as you used to.
What moment in your life changed when your “mother” became your “servant” and when did the love you had for her die?
The invisible barrier was now firmly in place and you listened to those whispers that told you how bad poc’s were. Do you recall wrestling with your conscience because it didn’t feel right?
It took just one moment, one moment for you to allow those evil thoughts in to viciously squash the love you naturally had for your “mother” but it’s a moment that shaped your future dealings with anyone who wasn’t your skin colour.
Over the years you listened to mostly negative untruths about poc’s and in doing so you distinguished the light that could have shone so brightly and have changed your world had you only stopped to question it.
That moment can never be recaptured but you can change. You can start moving towards the light and leave darkness behind by learning about the system that oppresses your “mother” and people like her, by understanding your privilege and by learning about white supremacy.
Any denial or justification of it is a denial of continued oppression.