It was the start of fifth grade for me when my father told me we were moving. I was so sad to leave my neighbors who all played a major role in my childhood. There was my neighbor two doors down Samantha who helped me get all my battle scars I have on my legs today.We climbed trees together. Rain or shine and parents putting us in dresses did not stop us. I called her Sam for short and still do. Sam is special she is the kindest person that I have ever met. She battles some health challenges and in the face of adversity homegirl is fearless. Even to this day two kids and some minor complications later. She looks fear in the face and makes it bow down to her.
There were many others who left loves mark in my heart. I was so sad that day we pulled out of the neighborhood. So fast forward to our new neighborhood. We were the only brown family on the block and a lot of our neighbors were not pleased to see us settle in. We had our mailbox bombed and “go back to Africa” written on the stop sign. I can recall several unbelievable racist incidents but I would rather not relive any of them. It’s frustrating and saddens me the assumptions made about brown skin people.
My dad did a lot of yard work and created such a beautiful landscape outside of the home. Neighbors marveled and began to ask questions and warmed up to us. My dad is a really awesome guy. And brown sugar and honey tends to have that effect on people so my grandmother says. There are a few takeaways from that tough transition. I came to know what my grandmother meant when she says “it ain’t what they call you but what you answer to”. I will always be mindful not to allow anyone to misname me. And never allow myself to answer to anything not listed on my birth certificate. Or written in the stars of course. Misery loves the company and I decline the invite to be pulled out of myself ever.
My neighborhood taught me. To forgive yourself when you fall short and remember to extend this same grace to the community. We are not all going to grasp life lessons at the same time. This is why we share books, movies, recipes, and thoughts. And that knock to borrow a cup of sugar. That turns into the most enlightening conversations. Remember to knock even if you don’t need anything. Show up for the people you love. And take the time to get to know those you do not.
Question your assumptions every once in a while.How often do you look up and notice the people in your life? It may make the difference in someone being lost and found. Take the time to look people in the eyes every day. And let them know I see you. You matter and you are not alone. Remember to speak life-giving words to others every chance that you get.
No better myself without bettering the people around me. Because how could I eat and let you starve. Your love is greater than your fears so keep fear in its proper place. Your light can cast out darkness with a single prayer. Keep going even when they don’t get you. As much as we all want the fairytale life. We will be dealt some cards that aren’t fair. Take each step with kindness. Remember to love your neighbor as you love yourself. We don’t have to agree with our neighbors. Yet blood pressure and stress levels may decrease if you’re less of a jerk.