Through My Spectacles: Why you wanna fly blackbird

Growing up there were pieces of me, big pieces, that always felt inadequate. No matter how often my mom soaked in the deep brown of my skin with her eyes—a painter admiring her work—as she let me fold into her, or when my dad’s smile stretched across his face at the sight of an A. Protected by those walls coated in their affection, I was some variation of perfect…and then I stepped outside.

As a brown girl, you grow up in a world that tells you your skin is dangerous, your hair strange, your mind insufficient. Your chances of success are automatically depleted because you had the misfortune of being born black.

For a while you don’t understand what’s being said, they’re just muffled words, and then one day you wake up and your ears aren’t clogged anymore. You can hear, and you realize despite their best efforts, those walls weren’t thick enough to protect you forever.

Suddenly you start to question all the features your parents taught you to be proud of, and your heart tightens at the amount of people that think you should be ashamed of them. These things, that don’t necessarily define you but help to makeup who you are as a person, become abnormal.

So you begin to search for things that make you feel normal again, special even; something where your skin isn’t directly correlated with your performance as a person.

I found lacrosse.

Originally it was just this experiment—to see if I could excel at this sport that was incomprehensible to me—but it gradually grew into something familiar, comforting…freeing.  

For the first time I felt beautiful. I was elegant, powerful; my feet lightly grazing the ground to an inaudible beat that no one could catch on to. The black girl with weird kinky hair, the angry black girl [because apparently having opinions makes you angry], the anomaly [because apparently black people are incapable of being intelligent], she faded away and finally, I was left.

When I was younger I thought, if I could just fly away to another place where people told me my hair was pretty and my brown skin rich and my intelligence unsurprising, I could be happy—I could just be another girl.

I had always wondered what it would feel like to grow wings, to cut through the air and feel everything around me condense into a film of blurred colors beneath me. I imagine it would be much like playing lacrosse.