It was the second time I had been asked to share my story in a meeting and I remember being scared because of the first time was at this run down club house full of old timers I didn’t really care to impress.
Not this time.
This time I was at a bougie joint where the drunks had money, status, and primarily a milky white complexion. My entire life it had been engrained in me that in order to succeed as a first generation Mexican-American I had to assimilate to Anglo-Saxon culture and ideology. I went to schools with primarily white students and played sports with the white kids.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it. A majority of the white people I was around liked having a token brown friend around. Even if it was subconsciously. They aren’t bad people and I still speak and hang out with a lot of them till this day.
The real issue was that when I shared my experience about having the alcoholic mentality while growing up, and that I always felt a little more apart from the rest than the typical alcoholic because of the skin of my color, I was told that it wasn’t special.
An older white man approached me and told me that I wasn’t any different and that I was just like him because he grew up white in Texas. At the time I was only a year into sobriety and hadn’t yet learned the importance of boundaries and standing by my experience. So, I said ok.
It wasn’t until I began to go through certain experiences in the rooms of not being forgiven when I had seen white counterparts doing worse and being told it was all ok, that a fire was lit inside of me.
I can understand how this can come across as a bitter rant. By all means, I’ve taken this into consideration. It’s just that it wasn’t until a few years into my recovery that I started to own being a Person of Color (PoC).
Being a Person of Color in the rooms was and continues to be difficult. There is a performance I see being put on, including by myself in order to adapt to occidental, Anglo-Saxon norms and behaviors. There are some that I see resisting and slowly but surely I see us People of Color coming closer and closer together.
There is a level of restraint being practiced by People of Color when in a room filled with white people. Lets keep it real, a majority of the rooms are dominated by not just white people but old white men. So, if you’re white and reading this I want to let you know, YES!, we sure do talk different when you people aren’t around.
The thing is that it’s not just how we speak but our demeanor and what we speak of. We want to be ourselves. At least I know I do.
In a recent conversation with a Woman of Color who is also part of the LBGTQ community, I asked her if she would be willing to start a meeting for PoC with me. She responded by enlightening me that it had already been attempted but white men kept showing saying “We deserve to be here”. The suggestion that followed was to start a non Twelve Step group that would be a safe place for us to hang out and organize if necessary.
My question now is, how can there be a respect for Women’s Meetings, LBGTQ Meetings, but none for a meeting for People of Color. Are old white men that scared of us brown, black and yellow folk?!
Is it only ok to organize if white people are allowed?
Where are we as a society if People of Color still can have a safe space to be themselves. A place to share their experience, strength, and hope without fear of being told, “NO!”.
People of Color stay strong. People of Color stay grounded. People of Color stay soulful.
To my fellow People of Color I say, “YES!”