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Oct
3

Mother Jemima

A couple things about me you probably didn’t know. First, I was adopted. Not a big deal, plenty of kids grow up that way. More significant though is that I am white and I was adopted by a single black woman. Statistically speaking this is highly unusual but when you’re a kid you don’t really notice these things. You just notice the love.

If a guy can identify as a girl why is it that I can’t identify as half black? Just one of the issues I wrestled with as I entered my teenage years.

The other issue was that my mom always dressed like Aunt Jemima.

No exaggeration, she always dressed like the old Aunt Jemima logo with the apron and bandanna and everything. The works. Her name was Nancy but her friends just called her ‘Auntie’. Mine did not.

One day I asked her why.

“You see child, even if the bakers went to the trouble of cutting off the crust at the end of each loaf before they put it in the package there would still be some people who wouldn’t want the end pieces” she explained.

I didn’t understand so she tried again.

“I like to make whitey uncomfortable.”

I was floored. “But mom” I replied “I’m whitey!”

I’ll always remember the way she smiled ear to ear. “Yes dear. Yes you are.” Her voice was so sweet, almost syrupy. “Let’s say we’re enjoying some Uncle Ben’s white rice for dinner (coincidentally Ben was the name of her ex-husband). The thing is, if a single grain somehow falls off a plate and finds its way to the floor it will sit there unnoticed, sometimes for weeks or longer until it gets hard. Then one day when you’re walking around barefoot you’ll step on it and it will hurt. You’ll forget all about how delicious the rice was during the meal and just feel the pain.”

Ben had left her for a white woman.

She leaned forward and scooped me up into one of her big hugs that I loved so much.

If a guy can identify as a girl why can’t I identify as half crazy?

Or should I say only half crazy.

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