A few days ago I was contacted to write something that I felt would be easy.
‘Can you write something about the plight of African American people who are being subjugated to violence and oppression on a daily basis?’
When I said yes, I didn’t realize that what I was really taking on was to explain to others who have never lived the life of an African American, how life is for us. The goods and the bads.
For me, my life as an African American woman can be summed up into one sentence.
I will never be enough for anyone else but, I will always be enough for me.
As many times as I get told I am not enough, I remind myself I don’t live for anyone else but me.
I was born in a small town and under the same stereotypical circumstance that many African Americans are born to, broken homes and later being labeled as at- risks because we don’t come from the perfect family.
My father wasn’t in my life like many others and once he was, custody changed, I moved to a better district where I was told I wouldn’t be successful because I was at-risks.
Early on, many stigmas were stamped on my back like I was a passport through life and none of them were for me to succeed.
I found out that my voice alone or with a group of my peers who looked similar to me, didn’t matter as we heard our white teacher say the n-word because the rest of our class felt it was okay.
Before the age of 18, my outlook on life made me bitter because I realized nothing was going to be easy but, it seemed that for everyone else, it was.
When I was younger, my family made sure to stamp the pride of being black into me knowing that one day I might resent it due to the burdens it carries with it.
They were right because by 18, I became angry at the world and I hadn’t entered the race of life yet.
Had I known the issues I’d face into adulthood, I would have tried to better prepare for it.
Life threw curve balls and humbled me before I could even think about being angry.
My dad told me, ‘As a African American, you are going to have to work twice as hard to get what a White person would get. As an African American Woman, you’re going to have to work four times as hard to get what any White Man gets.’
Sadly, as much as I didn’t want to believe that to be true, it did.
When I started in the automotive industry, I started at the bottom. After a while, I saw all my peers move past me to do what I wanted to do.
When I asked why, I was told it’s because I was good at what I did and until they found someone to replace me, I wasn’t moving up.
When I left to go on to do what I wanted, I was later told, the Director didn’t want any women in the shop.
I’ve been to seven dealerships and shops, I’ve only worked with four women techs, seen two women directors and six female advisors. None of them were black.
Through life, I’ve always been told, I’m not black enough or I’m too ghetto and should try to become more proper.
I’ve never been enough.
I’m not the only one.
When listening to famous black people speak about how they became who they are, they always talk about feeling and being told they weren’t enough.
A lot of times, to the point they wanted to commit suicide due to how depressed they were.
I come to realize, it’s a stigma.
It’s a burden.
It’s almost like a virus but not everyone can get rid of it.
While there are many stereotypes and stigmas coming to light in the media with African Americans.
There’s a lot on a daily basis that never gets talked about because it’s become a normal part of life.
There are so many that I can talk about, from the school system, to the generational issues, to the workforce, justice system and so forth.
While I can shed light on all of them individually, I can sum them all up into one sentence.
The inequality of treatment has been passed on through generations due to pride and ignorance of realizing that equality is the best quality of life.
Treating each other with respect and as Martin Luther King Jr. stated, ‘Judge a man not by the color of his skin but, by the content of his character’ will be the only way we can live in harmony.
My name is Jazmine Booker. I write under Jess Brooks most of the time but, like to use my own name from time to time. I aspire to be a writer and eventually wants to become successful in the entertainment industry. I’m from Texas in the United States.