B E I N G W I C H I T A W O M E N
Putt -n- Tang. Ask me again and I’ll tell you the same. Hey Black girl, who you be?
During those times, I learned that being white was right and that being Black was taboo. Having long blond hair that blow in the wind was a woman’s glory and that having short kinky hair was compared to being in a horror story. Having blue eyes was a gift and that having black or brown eyes were not valuable.
“BLACK,” Jan B. Chandler 1
Hey Black girl, what’s your name?
Come a little closer and you will see. Look in my eyes they are black as coal, but they don’t tell the stories that are within my soul. Because, I don’t look like what I’ve been through. In the government’s efforts to end segregation, like other Black kids for thirteen years I rode the big yellow school bus out of my Black neighborhood to be educated at predominately white schools that were located in predominately white neighborhoods. The knowledge that I obtained about America the free, had very little to do with me or my Black History.
Jan B. Chandler
I will “Not” apologize for my Blackness nor for my tightly coiled hair that outlines the shape of my head and my pretty round face. I will “Not” apologize for my Black rich skin for it covers the jewels that are harvested within.
I will “Not” apologize for my wide hips and thick thighs for they are curvaceous artistry that enhances my Black Ifemininity.will“Not” apologize for my ears for they are gateways that are opened to universal sounds that includes my own voice of reasoning and hope. I will “Not” apologize for my Ebonics speaking tongue that speaks the truth when the world says that I am wrong. They say that music can soothe a ravaging beast. Will somebody please tell the disk jockey to play a different song? Because this music of discrimination and hateration is creating a space for segregation which is a form of separation that can lead to degradation, low motivation and possibly incarceration. Hey DJ pleeeez play a different song. They say that “Black Lives” don’t matter. Hmm, I beg to differ. All Lives Matter! If there were no “Black Lives.” Would life really matter? Protest against misappropriation of “Black Lives” has been going on for years due to the telling of many white lies. Gunshots, Billy Clubs, water hoses, and vicious dogs too were used to take the lives of innocent Black folks due to trivial demise. Rivers of red tears have flown due to the bludgeoning of social justice. For these tears have watered and fertilized the grounds of inequality where hatred grows like wild flowers and thorns while coincidently, Ole Glory flies.
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There are other names of Black folks who have been murdered by those who were supposed to protect them that were not mentioned in this poem. If there is No JUSTICE there is NO PEACE! Please take a moment and whisper a prayer for this injustice to cease.
Our eyes are wide open as we slumber and sleep, just walking around from day to day endeavoring to make it through this week. You look at me and stir into my eyes and don’t speak. You say that you don’t see color. Hmm, that statement is pretty weak. I need you to see my Blackness.
Mr. Police Officer.
Breonna Taylor, a Black woman was asleep in her bed and she was shot dead. Sit still and “shh” be very quiet so you can hear her voice from the grave as she cries, “Justice for All.”
What would the color wheel look like without the color Black? I don’t want to imagine and that’s a fact. Without the color Black this world would be bland and in an enormous depth of lack. When there is the absence of color on the color wheel, there is BLACK.
Jan B. Chandler 3
George Floyd, a Black man said, “I can’t breathe” while he laid pressed to the ground with a man’s knee on his neck. His life was taken unnecessarily and the whole world witnessed it.
Mr. Police Officer.
Mr. Police Officer.
I will “Not!” I shall “Not!” I “Won’t!” Apologize for my BLACKNESS “BLACK,”
4 Being Wichita Women
Hidden Girl Consuelo Andrade
Avoiding the past is impossible. You cannot pretend as though life never took you down a winding road. Every time I try to push the thoughts to the back of my brain, they slowly and steadily begin to creep back in. Yes, avoiding the past is impossible. Living with your past, learning from your past, conquering your past is possible. My name is Consuelo Andrade also known as Chelo and this is my story of conquering my past.
When I was eleven though, all the normalcy went away. It was nighttime, a school night to be exact, and in our home, we had a pretty strict bedtime. So around 9 pm I went to lay down in my bed. I had two doors in my bedroom, one door led to the living room where my dad was sitting in his chair and the other door led to a bathroom. On the other side of that bathroom was my mother’s room where she lay, also watching TV.
Hidden Girl, Consuelo Andrade
I was eleven years old when life started to take me down a winding road. I was just like any other eleven-year-old girl. I loved to play outside, read books, watch television and fight with my brothers and sisters. We had a pretty “normal” family. To me that means we had food, shelter and a bed to sleep in. Clothes on our back were never an issue. Now we did not have a ton of money. Our food and clothing normally came from a Church down the road or a free program in town, but we had everything that we needed.
At this age I began to be curious about my body. I knew the basics, like growing breasts and how periods start, but I was curious about what the kids would talk about at school. Things like sex and why and how people have sex. These were not questions that I could ask my parents. Nope, we did not have those types of conversations in my house. So, I did what any other curious kid would do, I tried to find out the answers on my own. That night when I went to bed, I decided to turn on Sex and The City. Surely this TV show that has sex in the name can teach me everything I need to know. I was so excited and so embarrassed at the same time. I would DIE if my parents knew that I was watching this show to learn about sex! So, I turned the volume down to where I could barely hear it. I probably watched four whole episodes that night and honestly, I think I ended up with more questions than answers.
The next day I woke up for school just like I did any other day. See I was an early riser, I still am, so my alarm went off at 6 am. I got out of bed, took a shower, got dressed and headed into the kitchen for breakfast. As I’m getting my cereal, I noticed that my mom was acting a little… odd. She would look at me out of the corner of her eye like she was waiting for me to make some special move. When I started to sing, she made this snorting sound and pursed her lips, almost like she was disappointed in something I had done. This was how my mom acted towards us when she was disappointed or disgusted with something that we did. So, I decided to just go under the radar that day at home. I ate my cereal as fast as I could, and I headed out of the door to walk to school. School was normal that day. I was happy to be there, afraid to go home and find out what I did wrong. After school I hung around a little longer than I normally would, I also decided to take the long way home. Eventually though I had to face the inevitable, whatever I did wrong, it was time to face the music. When 6 Being Wichita Women
Over the next few weeks my mom’s behavior continued. I was walking on eggshells all around the house. When I would end up in the same room as my dad, my mom would yell at me to go to my room. Thoughts raced through my head, questions that at this point I did not have answers to. Why? What did I do that was so bad? Please tell me, how can I fix this? Please don’t be mad at me anymore mom. Eventually I would get some of the answers to these questions.
I got home that day my dad was pulling into the driveway. So of course, we walk into the house together, just like any other dad and daughter would. When we walked into the house, I could feel the tension in the air. It felt like if you took too large of a breath your throat would close from the thickness in the air. My mom looked at my dad and said, “Did you pick Chelo up today?” My dad said, “No, she got here the same time I did.”
One day I came home from school and my mom was sitting on the porch smoking a cigarette and drinking her tea. She never really sat on the porch to smoke so I immediately knew that something was up. I finally got to the porch and my mom said, “Chelo I need you to sit down”. I thought to myself, this is it, this is where I die. Mom started describing the night that started this whole debacle. She described where each person in the house was, but then she started to describe some sounds that she heard that night. Sounds of someone having sex. In my mind I thought, oh God I got caught! What am I supposed to do? She is going to think I am so weird!
“Yeah right,” my mom said with that face that could kill you on its own. The half-closed eyes, the nose scrunched up like she just smelled something bad, and the side of her mouth raised like a wolf getting ready to attack. She didn’t believe him, and I didn’t understand why. Why would something so simple cause a fight between my mom and dad?
“No, no, no he didn’t mom. I swear to you he didn’t go into my room. I was asleep,” I said as I started to cry. Of course, I knew I wasn’t asleep and I knew what I was watching, but there was no way I could ever tell her that. She asked repeatedly if my dad touched me or did anything bad to me and I continued to say no. My mom didn’t believe me though. She had a storyline in her head and that’s exactly what she was going to believe. conversation finally came to an end. I was so upset that my mom would think my dad, of all people my dad, would molest me. If she did think that he was molesting me, wouldn’t she go into the room to stop it? If he were molesting me then why treat me like I did something wrong? These unfortunately are questions that I did not get the answers to. Because my mom didn’t believe me, my life changed. If someone asked me 10 years ago if I was abused growing up, I would have said no way! I didn’t understand what abuse was. Abuse is not just physical. Verbal abuse is very real and very hurtful. Verbal abuse, or emotional abuse, is a range of words or behaviors used to manipulate, intimidate, and maintain power and control over someone. These include insults, humiliation and ridicule, the silent treatment, in attempts to scare or isolate victims. I am a victim of verbal abuse. I am thirty-two years old, and this is my first time admitting that I AM A VICTIM OF VERBAL ABUSE. My mom checked every single box from the verbal abuse definition. She would call me ugly when I got dressed up for a school event. She would tell me how stupid I was and how no one was ever going to want to be with me because I was stupid and fat and ugly. But I was a straight A student, I was 118 pounds at 5’2’’ and I have had multiple people love me.
But then a question came out of her mouth that I would not have expected in a gazillion years. She said, “Did your dad go into your room the other night?”
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Hidden Girl, Consuelo Andrade 9
Looking back, I did all this because I wanted to prove her wrong. I only had straight A’s because I wanted to show her that I was not stupid. But even when I won a fullride scholarship to Wichita State University, that was not enough for her. I was only skinny because I would starve myself all day long and then go to volleyball practice or swimming after school. I would down a miniature bag of Hot Cheetos before practice just so I could have something in my stomach and not pass out. I had people that fell in love with me, but I could never truly love them back. This isn’t because they weren’t great people, it was because I didn’t love myself. I conquered my past by learning to love myself. I had to teach myself that I am beautiful, unique and loved. I did this over years of struggle and turmoil. I took each aspect of my life and continuously told myself that I am the opposite of what my mom made me out to be. I told my story out loud and stopped trying to hide who I am, because I realized that I am not that scared little girl anymore. Verbal abuse does not define who I am, it taught me about who I do not want to be. I am strong. I am loved. I am a SURVIVOR!