Hey, my peeps, what’s the good word?
So, I’ve been hella silent on these pages lately because I’ve been perusing around Washington, DC on a girls trip. Your gal needed a break. My sis and a gal pal met up with my gals already down south and got together for a no holds barred, all fun, good vibes, time to get away trip. Did I mention that my mother came along? I’ll get to that later.
Let me chat a little bit about my experience at the Smithsonian National Museum of African History and Culture.
I need to go back.
As I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of times over, it’s utterly impossible to get through the museum in one day. Taking a look at the monstrous building from across the street as I stepped out of the car was overwhelming, but once you’re inside it’s extremely warm and welcoming. Now, imagine trying to go through 4 floors of our history and culture. Unfathomable. And when I say ‘our’ culture, that does include the Caribbean as well. From fashion to culture, to music, to slavery, to food and books…there is a lot to cover and go through. It’s an intricate emotional roller coaster ride of blackness.
I decided to start my first run on the 4th floor in the Culture section, which basically covered the arts. I walked through in awe, reading every plaque as the descriptive words jumped off and literally welcomed me and introduced each segment. I watched videos from Paul Robeson with his commanding and sharp tongue, speak on the plight of the black man and his intention to go down until the end fighting for his rights. Our rights. I squealed in delight as I gawked at Michael Jackson’s sequinned jacket and shirt combo, and Whitney Houston’s American Music Award and Prince’s symboled tambourine. There was even a short section on the French Caribbean and a post about St. Lucia. I was a kid in a candy store. I took many pictures. Plenty. I had every intention of sharing them with you, but I thought about it and don’t want to ruin the exhibit for those who haven’t attended as yet.
But there was a moment that I had with a sista that I have to share.
Above is an image of the paper bag test. Many of us either know of it all too well or have simply heard of it. As I stood in front of the display thinking of how different my life would have been back in the day, an older and refined woman stood right next to me. Her skin tone was cocoa butter smooth and in a shade of midnight. Her hair—natural, with a simple silver streak of wisdom splicing right down the front. She was stunning. We both stood there in silence. Just pondering. And almost in unison, we blurted out, “Well, I wouldn’t have gotten too far!”. While we both burst out into laughter, our discussion took a serious tone. We spoke about how she was perceived in high school as “darkie” back in the day, and how the boys wouldn’t even take a second glance at her. I shared with her the time a black man called my chocolate hue ugly straight to my face, and how it shook me. And that was as recent as 10 years ago. How the times have changed, but really haven’t. In the few minutes that we conversed, we connected. We laughed and shared life experiences. Of course, we agreed that at this point in our lives, we’re pretty steadfast about “if you don’t like what you see then keep it moving.” But the truth is, facing all of these concepts and realizations is hard, yet real. And you tend to make friends with perfect strangers, even for the moment. That’s only part of the magic and realness of this museum.
I only made it through 2 and a half rooms on the 4th floor (because I wanted to read EVERYTHING and take my time). And I’m well vexed that I didn’t get to visit Sweet Home Café, it was high on my list! So it goes without saying that I have to return. No doubt. For those of you who are looking for tickets (I’ve been asked plenty of times to keep my eyes open!), there was a block released yesterday and we just missed it! But the upcoming block for July will be released on Wednesday, April 5th at 9 am. Mark your calendars accordingly!
Lastly, I had to share this. My Mom has no behaviour (and this is where I get it from). On our way home from the museum, my girl put on some tunes and it got a little rowdy in the car. All in good fun, of course. Ladies and gents enjoy the time with your elders, parents, grandparents etc. Those who you keep close? Squeeze them tight and enjoy the ride. She’s all I have left, and I’m so happy that we got to experience the museum together. And with that said…