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  • Writer's pictureNajah Amatullah

Still No Crystal Stair

“I’se been a’climbin’ on,

And reachin’ landin’s,

And turnin’ corners,

And sometimes goin’ in the dark,

Where there ain’t been no light.”

-Langston Hughes “Mother to Son”

I am from Oklahoma. Midwest City, near one of the biggest United States Air Force bases, and equally near to rural cattle and horse farms. I grew up playing outside with both Black and white friends. I grew up in church with people from every background. My grandmother’s closest church ladies were Chinese and Indonesian.

I grew up being great at school, a singer, a performer, and a Barbie girl. I also grew up not really understanding race, aka “colorblind.”

I was raised with a very different understanding of being Black than almost anyone else in my immediate surroundings. I think there are a few main reasons for this. Watch this short video to hear about the beginning.

I livedin a pretty concrete lifestyle of meritocracy.

I do not know very much about how my family viewed race because it was not a subject we discussed at home at all. It’s possible that I processed racial differences only because of my friends in the neighborhood and TV.

The general messages from my childhood were about being good, kind, and obedient as Christians should, and working hard at school to further my natural intelligence.

In fourth grade, I left one private school for another: an all-Black church school. There, I realized for the first time that my speech was noticeably different from many Black people. I became aware because a teacher mocked me and told me I talked like a white girl.

....Read the rest of the story on my Ko-fi ("coffee") page.

“I’se still goin’, honey,

I’se still climbin’,

And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair” (Hughes).

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Recent Ko-fi blogs posts include "The Poet or the Rapper" and "Equation for Place in Time." I'll be posting a video there updating you about my life in Guatemala in a new house and with new perspective.

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