A Hundred Lives in a Lifetime

Cheryl - Greensboro, North Carolina
Entered on October 16, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe that anyone can live 10 or 100 lives in a lifetime. I grew up taught that I have to be one way, work at one job, love only one person (as if there is only one) that I must hold myself aside waiting for. I am a 43 year old Black woman who purposefully speaks Spanish. My two mixed origin children are half Mexican and half Czech.

I also grew up in the Bronx, New York in the 1970s surrounded by people of all hertiages, inlcuding a gaggle of chldren with the last name Hue at my Catholic elementary school. The had a dark skinned black mother and a diminutive Asian father. Across the hall was Prince from Ghana with his curly haired mixed son. In the same building were Polish, Hispanic, and Black families under the careful watch of our Puerto Rican building “super.” Those experiences ingrained themselves forever in my character and have forged in me the belief that I do not have to be just one thing.

I jokingly tell people I know that I am on my twelfth life. At my advanced age I experienced love at first sight. I have been married once, a mistress once, dated Asians, Latinos, Germans, a Czech and of course my “own.” I’ve taught, worked in the business world, non-profits, and local government. I know the Black national anthem (Lift ev’ry Voice and Sing), puff with pride at James Brown’s “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” and know all the words and puff with just as much pride to sing The National Anthem. I am not some monolithic representation of the “Black Community.” WE are many, and our beliefs and motivations cannot and should never be spoken for by any one leader who is capable of capturing the spotlight, purposefully or through serendipity. Leaders cannot be selected by any one media characterization, or by any one media caricature.

I cannot understand why it is considered perfectly normal for White Americans to have a multiplicity of views. When a Black person expresses views that don’t fall into a certain invisible “standard” that Black person is some anomalous being, inscrutable, outside of the predefined cultural image thrust on him or her. “Oh she is so articulate” as if every Black person in America stumbles dumbfounded over her words. “Oh he’s Black but he expresses an interest in my; well being, even though I’m not Black” as if every Black person in America harbors a secret death wish or ill will towards anyone not Black.

How incredibly tiresome to have to live an entire lifetime with a single external perception of “who” someone else thinks I am.

The creative non destructive way I have strive to escape what so many have attempted to foist on me is to live constantly learning, to get exposed to as many corners of existence as possible, and not be defined or confince by “one” way of living a life.