My birthday is next Saturday, July 3rd. I’m hitting another pivotal age that will move me into a new age category when filling out registrations, applications or patient paperwork—45. Aside from noticing how much my face and body has aged the past five years post-cancer, I’ve noticed the mandatory tolderation of bullshit and then racist bullshit barometer that has been forced upon me since the first time I was called a n----- in the 4th grade in order to survive is gone.
Will there ever a time where I can bring all of myself into a room? How much of me can I reveal without getting hurt? How do so many white people not see the protective cloak I wear to help fend off the inevitable insults, microaggressions, full on racists remarks, undermining of me, and them trying to “put me in my place?”
I remember turning 25 while living in LA. By that point, I had become...
A little jaded.
Had experienced first heartbreak.
Unhappy with career.
Diagnosed with depression and anxiety.
I couldn’t financially pursue acting the way I wanted because many unexpected and painful things happened while in L.A. that forced me to go the corporate route because I needed health insurance and somewhat steady income. I put my dreams on hold.
I remember turning 35 while living in Atlanta. By that point, I had experienced...
Living through a terrible recession.
Lack of professional direction.
Being called stupid by my white female boss when I worked for an in-house agency.
Being told I’m brilliant by a white employer but unwilling to pay more for my expertise.
Letting go of pursuing acting.
More health issues and unexpected weight gain.
My hair on the left side started falling out.
More depression and anxiety.
My white doctors dismissing my symptoms even though I knew something was seriously wrong.
More anger that was boiling into rage.
Now we fast forward to soon-to-be 45 while living in Atlanta. Now, I continue to have difficulty navigating through life because of...
Supposedly “surviving” Stage IIA invasive lobular breast cancer.
Lack of quality of life thanks to permanent damage stemming from 16 rounds of chemo, 8 surgeries, and 33 radiation treatments.
Unmanaged chronic pain due to fibromyalgia and chemo induced peripheral neuropathy and medically induced menopause.
Being told by two white women when I was working at a huge ad agency that I had to keep my health and work separate when I began struggling from side effects from taking Arimidex to help prevent a recurrence. They said this in front of everyone.
Being called by the other black woman’s name 2 times by an older white woman, who was/is a tRump supporter, after being there for two years at the job I had before the pandemic. There were only two black women in the marketing department. We have vastly different looks and personalities.
Having my ideas stolen by white women in the workplace throughout my entire career and them receiving the credit and not being able to call them out on it for fear of losing my job because I needed the money.
Realizing how oppressed and degraded I had become after consistently dealing with the white fragility of white women and every so often white men.
Dealing with white women in certain cancer groups who have actually said, “race doesn’t belong in the cancer space” and “not everything is about race.”
Being trolled and targeted on Twitter by racists because I began speaking up about it more and more.
Palpable cracks in my soul after seeing black men and women being murdered at the hands of white people over and over and over and over again with no accountability.
Discovering white people who I thought were friends and who I trusted let their racial bias and racists thoughts show, which has destroyed my trust in a lot of white people.
Watching an insurrection happen LIVE and seeing those racists being treated with dignity and able to just go home afterward.
Palpable pain, self-hate, unhappiness, and rage continues to runneth over.
I honestly didn’t want to write out the flood of thoughts that have been whirling in my head since the start of this year. Writing it down makes it real. I literally have tears in my eyes as I write this, and my heart is pounding furiously because I am just so f--king tired of having to be ON all the time and never knowing who I can trust anymore. Now that the veil of oppression has been lifted from my face, how do I continue moving forward without hate seeping into all the cracks in my soul that have formed during my soon-to-be-45 years on this hateful planet?
Will I ever develop the ability to move past…
and the rage.
Well, that remains to be determined.
What I can confidently say is I’m finally at a place professionally where my voice and ideas are encouraged, supported, and uplifted. I’ve never received that kind of respect before, and it feels strange yet deeply appreciated and comforting. I suppose miniscule steps forward are still steps to be acknowledged.
Until next time,
This post originally appeared on Life on the Cancer Train on June 26, 2021. It is republished with permission.