I don’t know why my parents are the way they are — why they think better of themselves when compared to everyone else in our community. Their senseless thinking over the years — impressed upon me and my two sisters and has shaken us in ways I cannot describe.
I have always felt the need to empower myself — to grow outside of the box they fought to pin us in, and I hate that things have taken this turn. But if not now, then when?
I love my father. I idolized him growing up — he was and in some ways is still my everything.
I can’t pinpoint one thing. There are many reasons my love for him is as strong as it is. I attended the most prestigious schools. I am well-versed in using my mental power to gain leverage in situations that require debate or negotiation. He instilled in me the need to be financially stable, so I would not rely on anyone.
The irony of the last statement isn’t lost on me. The bulk of my savings came from him, ensuring I would have “the perfect life” with or without him around.
He has crossed a serious line, though. I doubt we’ll ever be the same again.
I work hard at what I do in order to have the life I envision for myself. I had recently moved back home because the building where my loft is caught fire (electrical issues and the like). The fifth and sixth floors were the most affected. I live on the sixth floor.
Those floors are being gutted and renovated, and rebuilding will take about thirteen months. So my being back at home was a temporary thing.
I met Cleveland three years ago at an outdoor music event two neighborhoods over. A benefit concert. Proceeds were to be distributed to the city’s children’s club and rec center.
Cleveland had been the DJ, and something about the way he looked up and smiled at me was beyond appealing. I think — at that very moment; I yearned to know more, and I pursued him.
Yes, I walked up to him after I noticed him step down for a break from his booth and introduced myself. I had every intention of learning more about him, and I did. So, here we are …
Two young people in love and fighting to stay in love regardless of our parents’ feelings toward it.
Cleveland has his struggles with my parents, and I have my struggles with his. Our families outside of our homes, though, simply want us to be careful, yet they support us.
I know sometimes he looks at me and sees a woman who has it all — one who has never had to bend or break herself for much. But if you walked a mile in my shoes, you would see things differently.
From jump-street and at first glance, I am labeled as a Black woman who can get whatever she wants because of my complexion. No one knows the battles I have fought to do what I do.
I have been called every name in the book as it pertains to light-skinned Black people, many of which, I will not repeat, but a few echo without ceasing: Light bright, red-bone, and high yellow.
I am the Content Researcher for the university’s library and I did not land this job when I first applied and interviewed for it.
I have a dual master’s in history and political science and got my undergraduate degree in marketing when I was 20 years old. It took me three attempts at this career choice to do what I love doing.
The first and second interview processes had been tainted with microaggressions and subtle attempts at belittling my character and accomplishments.
The third time I applied and was called in for the interview, there had been a different director. I wondered why, but as soon as the first few questions during the interview were asked and answered, I knew.
Racism, when in terms of Black people, does not see the complexion of a Black person. It sees a Black person.
I have struggled with the color of my skin, as God has gifted it to me. I had many feeble attempts at getting darker. I would tan for hours on end to appear a light brown color for two weeks to only return to my natural state.
If you hear “You’re passable” enough, it sticks, and trust me, you want more than anything to belong amongst your people, so you do what you can to … gain their approval.
It wasn’t until Cleveland said something to me one day that made me recognize how beautiful I am just the way that I am. I came home from work distracted by an intense argument between me and my co-worker. He stated he was sure I’d climb the hierarchal ladder at the library because of my skin tone.
Not because of my credentials or exemplary work ethic or stellar attendance, but because of my skin tone.
I was seething from the discussion and as I told the story to Cleveland, he said, “Ruthann, he’s jealous. And jealous people use their anger to hurt others. You’re hurt now, aren’t you? So, right now, he’s winning. Don’t you give him that.”
And after I heard him say those words to me, I stopped crying. I looked at him and knew I didn’t want to be with anyone else. I only wanted to be with him. He pulled me into his arms and I stayed there for the night.
We are tasked with finding another temporary residence while my building undergoes renovations. His parents are kind enough to usher us in on such short notice, but I don’t feel welcome here. I know we won’t make it for the next eight months. That’ll be impossible.
I see the look in Cleveland’s eyes — the intensity — the strain. He wants more than anything for us to be in our own place without the looming gazes of others beating down on our backs.
I rarely dream about celebrities. It is a rare occurrence, and in order for it to take place, I would have had to watch a movie or read a book about that person right before going to sleep. And I certainly have never dreamed about the incomparable Oprah Winfrey before; the woman whose net worth is 2.5 billion dollars.
The dream I had early Sunday morning on September 11, 2022, struck me as peculiar, yet intriguing. I was in a dark room and the only area with an inkling of light was the small space where Oprah sat.
She wore her famous square-rimmed, flashy glasses, her hair was pulled up into a neat bun, and she donned a white blouse and brown slacks. She was shouting, “I am writing my book in Chicago about the children I never had, and I will need my fucking space!”
It echoed throughout the room. I simply stood there in awe. I could not move. Both my body and mind knew exactly what was taking place. I was in the company of one of the most influential Black women who was shouting repeatedly at the top of her lungs about a book she would need space to write, and I could not move.
There aren’t usually smells in my dreams, but in this one, I could smell a sweet and earthy scent. It was welcoming — a scent that provided safety and peace. Could it have been a signature perfume of her choice wafting from Oprah’s body? I don’t know.
I just knew that there I was, watching one of the most beloved women in the world declare frantically of the book she was writing. And it was both painful and motivating to witness.
Oprah does not have children and neither do I
Why did I have this dream? What does it mean? I do not fancy myself as someone who analyzes dreams. I simply try to understand them in my own way. Of late, I have had my share of weird ones, though, and this one is no different.
Oprah Winfrey does not have children. She has been open about this in many of her interviews and speaks about it candidly without regret. Her career path did not have room for the time, support, nurturing, and care she would have needed to allow for children, so she passed on that opportunity.
I think about what she must have lived through — how she had to cement herself — become hard enough to keep moving, and I tear up.
I realized, ‘Whoa, I’m talking to a lot of messed-up people, and they are messed up because they had mothers and fathers who were not aware of how serious that job is.’ I don’t have the ability to compartmentalize the way I see other women do. It is why, throughout my years, I have had the highest regard for women who choose to be at home [with] their kids, because I don’t know how you do that all day long, Nobody gives women the credit they deserve. — Oprah Winfrey
I do not have children. Not for the same reasons as Oprah, but my reasons are also valid enough for me. I have always had an incredible fear of not being able to love my children how I would need to or losing myself enough to forget my past and not burden my children with my baggage.
I also found out in my early 30s that it would be difficult for me to have children naturally, so I did not take that risk. Not to mention, I have yet to have a partner worthy enough in my eyes to share such a responsibility as parenting.
“I am writing my book in Chicago about the children I never had, and I will need my fucking space!”
I have watched many women give their all to their children — love them unconditionally — lift them up where they have faltered; teach them right from wrong, and these same children grow up to leave their mothers crying senselessly about the choices they are making or have made.
How much of it is nurture? How much of it is nature? One can never know who or what their children will become until it has happened. That is a weight too heavy for me to carry.
And there was music and tears and nervousness too
I am no stranger to music in my dreams. Music seems to be the way I love — the way I lean into life when everything else becomes too tough to tackle. I speak using music and the world around me silences itself to hear me.
Sometimes I feel That we try and make each other sad (I don’t know why) The things we do How we make each other feel so bad We’ve got so much We could all be having so much fun
This song sends me to a space and time that is both nostalgic and a sad reminder of my past. My mother’s family always had these wild cookouts and family gatherings. I say wild because there would inevitably be an argument, an altercation, and someone or more than one person would head home in tears or angered by the day’s events.
Her family frightened me. So much anger. So much intensity. And oddly enough, amongst the pain, so much love, too.
Funny how the mind works, huh? To have this song on repeat in a dream reflected around the non-existence of children, Oprah Winfrey, and me as the voyeur — there’s more here, I know it.
I try to dig a little deeper. A fellow writer left a comment for me after we’d been conversing regarding my most recent article in An Injustice Mag, stating, “Exactly my point, leave their table for yours. In fact, write a book about the hypocrisy you face to become a writer. Be the change you want to see. Prove them wrong and exceed their limitations.”
His suggestion sent my mind swirling, and several moments of creativity flashed before my eyes. I can do what he is suggesting.
In the dream, I was nervous. I have yet to figure out if it was because I had been standing in the presence of the great Oprah Winfrey or if it was because of all the things I have lined up for me in the coming months. I am excited. I am full of fear. But it all will be worth it in the end.
I have always had an incredible fear of not being able to love my children how I would need to or losing myself enough to forget my past and not burden my children with my baggage.
And there were tears from both me and Oprah. With Oprah’s frantic shouting, came free-flowing tears that streamed down her face gently. Her declaration hadn’t bothered her. Her voice bull-horned without the bullhorn. Everyone, I am certain, who was anyone, could hear her.
I cried. Watching her in this intense state shout about needing the space to write about the children she never had, moved me — both in the dream and when I woke up.
The truth is in the details
We miss, sometimes, what we never had. And perhaps, that’s our link in this dream — knowing we have not and want not, but we sometimes regret it, even if we tell ourselves we don’t.
The truth is always in the details if we’re willing to plow through the dirt of us and retrieve a cleansing state.
I had a dream about Oprah Winfrey, and she had been writing about the children she never had while I stood there as a witness, which led to me thinking about the children I never had. Maybe it is a coincidence, this dream. Maybe there is nothing there and nothing I need to search for within it.
The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman. — Malcolm X
I have learned, in these last five months after venturing into applying for writing positions (once again), that as a Black woman in America, this industry is crucial — a rigorous trail of dangerous terrain, and many of us will not pull away from it without broken ankles or worse — a broken spirit.
I have applied to countless organizations, entities, magazines, and journals. I have updated, tweaked, upgraded, and enhanced my résumé hundreds of times. I have submitted examples of my writing, samples of copy as per requests, and details of my experience and longevity within the industry. Yet, I stand before you, jobless in the field I have dreamed of making my full-time career choice.
I want to tell you that this is my first time with these results, but it is not. And I know I am not the only one. The older I become, the harder it is to gain traction in the world of creative arts — particularly literary content, and every time I find the strength to give it one more go at it, I get the wind knocked completely out of my sails.
So, what is different this time around? I know what I can offer. I am aware of my potential. I am not afraid of a challenge or hard work. I can pursue intense and controversial topics, interview big names relative to various subjects, and do all of this in a way that will connect the reader and bring them back continually.
However, I have gotten several proverbial doors slammed in my face because I do not fit the model the company seeks; I am not interested in writing solely for marketing purposes. I refuse to write about or attach my name to something I do not believe in or advocate for, and the list goes on.
The tables they have designed for those seeking to eat among their peers have no more room. Or is it simply what they lead us to believe?
Why are we almost always at the bottom regarding pay in most job markets?
I work full-time in healthcare. I am a central scheduling specialist for radiology. To make it plain, I schedule radiology scans and interventional radiology/invasive procedures for our patients. The job is not one for the weary or faint of heart.
I commend my love of words and for people regarding my ability to build rapport, remain empathetic, and ensure a timely and effective scheduling process for our patients.
I will be honest. The pay is not what I would envision for the tasks and overall processes we have to endure, but I love my job.
Am I stressed out on some days? Sure. Do I wish it would get better for me and my co-workers? I do. Would I want to do this job with any other group of people? No, I would not.
The people I share these tasks with are exceptional and we are a rainbow of glorious individuals who show up daily to do what we do best; give patients a remarkable radiology scheduling experience.
Healthcare has been the backbone and most convenient way to keep me afloat, while writing always held its own on the sidelines. I have never gained enough to fully sustain and live comfortably from writing.
You may be saying to yourself, “Why do you think this should change?” I have always felt my heart speaks more when I am writing. My mind is at ease — anxiety is curbed significantly.
And the monetary comparisons are laughable. I can earn more by editing and publishing, and submitting commissioned articles in one month (whenever applicable) than I can in healthcare scheduling.
When I step back and look at the overall differences in pay gaps and wages for White men, Black men, White women, and Black women, I am left speechless.
Where is the fairness in the statement above? Will there ever be pay equity for women, more specifically, Black women?
I have to be a sounding board for others and bring my table when there are no more seats left
Although I have not gotten my seat at the table of writing, I am making moves in order to bring my own table and invite others to sit with me too. I am unafraid to be vulnerable and authentic. I share my experiences. I let people into the parts of my world where I feel a connection will take place.
“When one door closes, another one opens.” In my case, I can say, “When hundreds of doors are closed before you, build your own, then knock it down.”
I have this unstoppable quality marked into my making, and I cannot see myself “taking a knee” because I am being forced to.
Women writers outnumber men writers in the United States of America. However, we are still paid $0.96 to their $1.00.
There are over 46,256 writers currently employed in the United States.
53.8% of all writers are women, while 46.2% are men.
The average age of an employed writer is 41 years old.
The most common ethnicity of writers is White (78.9%), followed by Hispanic or Latino (7.4%) and Black or African American (6.0%).
The majority of writers are located in New York, NY, and Los Angeles, CA.
Writers are most in-demand in New York, NY.
Writers are paid an average annual salary of $66,143.
The above stats have been derived from Zippia and are the most recent analysis for Writer demographics by gender, location, and race.
I will not ask for your permission. I don’t need it.
Many writers come and go. I have broken bread with editors, authors, poets, and content creators. I converse with struggling journalists, Black women in Tech, and Black women freelance writers. The “game” was not designed for us to be on top.
No one will say this out loud — this information is the “quiet part” about which we should not speak. It is a thing someone continually forces us to move through, and when we arrive, they mount another obstacle for us to maneuver.
There are countless Black women in various job markets who can stand in front of you and say they have had to pivot to entrepreneurship because no one else would hire them. They are carving out spaces for themselves because countless doors have been closed in their face. They are currently pulling themselves up into the spotlight and bringing a few of their colleagues along because they know what the struggle entails.
I am at the age now where I fervently believe that it is high time for me to construct my table, sit it alongside the path of others, and help catapult Black women writers to where they want to be.
And I will not ask for anyone’s permission — not anymore. I don’t need it.