As a Black girl, born in South Central Los Angeles and raised in Compton, CA, I was already systematically counted out. Why? Because society said so. Society told me that I would become a statistic early in life. I would come from a single household, because my father would not be present due to incarceration, abandonment, or violent death. I would struggle academically or possibly have a “C” average because I would receive a public education from a school district which lacks adequate resources. It was possible that I would graduate high school if I lived long enough and did not drop out. However, the odds of pursuing higher education would be unattainable.
I would end up a teenage mother, dependent on governmental assistance. I would probably work a dead-end job to make ends meet. I would bore children to multiple fathers and end up a single mother. I would stay in the confines of living in the “hood” because that’s where I belonged. I would make less than $30,000 a year, while struggling to care for myself and my children. Why? Because society said so.
I would live a life plagued by violence and poverty. More than likely, alcoholism and drug addiction would enter my life due to generational and societal influences. Eventually, I would pass on, leaving my children nothing, repeating the same history that was set by so many Black families before me. After that, my children would embark on the same path that I trotted down. Why? Because society said so.
But what society did not account for was the strength of a Black mother and father determined to raise their children with more options than what was provided to and for them. Society did not account for the little girl who talked too much but had big dreams and ambitions to receive a higher education so she could make something of herself. Society did not know that despite the cultural confinement of growing up in a poverty-stricken neighborhood, I would have many different areas of support and encouragement that others were not privy to.
Society did not know that I was not counted out.
There are so many people that this story will resonate with because they, too, were not defeated by a system that is cautiously designed for them to fail.
I’m often seen as too emotional because I am a woman; angry and negative because I am Black; and as having daddy issues, promiscuous and confused because of my sexuality. Why? Because society said so. Society confuses emotions for passion when it comes to women. Society looks at people of color as inferior because our excellence is what they really fear. Society thinks your queer sexuality automatically makes you strange simply because they don’t want to be understanding or accepting.
With protests for racial equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and social justice on an all-time high, one must ask why are these concepts still an issue in 2021? Why is there still a gap in educational resources in inner-city areas? Why are we still combating teenage pregnancy in communities of color? Why are people being paid less and looked over for jobs and promotions because they’re Black or Hispanic or queer? Why is corporate America still White-washed when there are more than qualified minorities with bright ideas and magnificent talents everywhere? Why are political beings not an actual representation of the diverse people in their communities? Because society said so.
It seems that America is in this sinking state of a superfluous unwritten law that you can only be someone if you are White, from an affluent family, and live a “normal” life. When in reality, we are consistently showed that there are no such things as “normal” and good things can come from anyone in any situation. For that reason, everyone, despite living conditions, religious beliefs, nationality or ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, or socioeconomic status should be proud of who they are. Society will have you feeling unwanted, undeserving, and unneeded. Regardless of who you are, where you come from, and who your ancestors were, YOU have control over your choices to rise out of any situation. Don’t let society determine your future. Why? BECAUSE YOU SAID SO.