Letter From A Southern Daughter
You wanted better things for me…
You wanted better things for me, so I worked in impoverished Elysian Fields in New Orleans as a teenager and saw every advantage I had to be grateful for and returned changed, with a deep sense of empathy and believing opportunity should be there for ALL. That sentiment has continued throughout my life, but I’m now seen, negatively in your eyes, as “too liberal” because I feel everyone deserves equality.
You wanted better things for me, so I earned an academic scholarship and got a college degree and am now penalized and dismissed because I have a mind capable of critical thinking and being able to hold two opposing thoughts in it at the same time; the ability to weigh and consider, to think things through, see from a different perspective and not blindly follow a crowd. Somehow, now, I am “too educated.”
You wanted better things for me, so I traveled. Every time I return home with a renewed sense of how much we have, here, to be thankful for and always the shock of how we squander it and try to hoard it, as individuals, thinking if we use our candle to help someone else light theirs, it somehow dims our own. Now, I am “too worldly.”
You wanted better things for me, so I studied music and art. The beauty of these things and the exposure to cultures other than my own increased my appreciation for the world at large, the ones who create and the ones who work, with conscientiousness, to make this planet a better place through the arts. Now I am “too out there.”
You wanted better things for me, so I got out in the world and met people. I made friends and engaged in meaningful conversations with people of all religions, backgrounds, colors and economic standings. I see that religion doesn’t ensure morality and I know that moral people exist without it, a concept you cannot grasp. Now I am, “an affront” to what you believe.
Now, I sit with your disappointment. I see the way you used a superficial issue to dig into me, only really shining the spotlight on what the issues between us actually are.
I didn’t bring this fight to you, but the moment I finally asked to have my boundaries respected it was no longer OK. You felt challenged and you could not let it rest.
Just as I asked you, “Then what do you feel is the proper way to protest, the right way to bring attention to inequality?” I see that, in your eyes, it’s not the method that bothers you, it is that anyone feels they have a right to protest something you don’t have a problem with. You are, in fact, the offended one because of your fear that everyone being equal will make you lesser because you‘ve never been the one faced with inequality.
You may feel disappointment with me, but I do not feel disappointment with myself.
I feel disappointment that you don’t see that I became what you wanted: better.
I just wish that somewhere, along my journey, you could have become better, too.
After today, you may feel disappointed, but I was able to be clear about who I am. I know who I am, and now – at the middle age of my life – I am finally free.