For the Black Girls With Secret Attitude Because Theirs Is Too Strong
Want to know a secret? I got a bad attitude. Only my family knows about it though. I cut my eyes harder than the best of them. I talk in a monotone voice when I’m annoyed. My resting bitch face has made children cry. I am big moody diva energy personified.
But at work and in life I am smiles and agreeable bubblegum. Whenever I show my true colors I get written up at work. I get asked if I’m okay. I get weird looks and no one understands me, so I figured out long ago that I have to be the complete opposite of how I feel inside.
Some call it fake. I call it not getting fired for existing.
I knew my attitude was intense on one of my first days in a child acting workshop from back in my child-regional-theatre-star days. There was an exercise when we had to display different emotions on stage. Our child workshop director would say “show the emotion of joy” and we would all jump and smile and our joy was so beautiful. He would ask us to show sadness and to do our best to think of things that made us sad. And finally, he would tell us to show anger. While other kids were throwing things, and having a tantrum. I just stood there looking intensely out into the distance with my famous thousand-yard stare as my mother called it. The air grew cold around me. Everyone suddenly stopped throwing things. The director looked at me with a fear I’ve never seen before.
The room was so still. The usual bubbly gap tooth ADHD child who spoke with an impeccable non-threatening California valley girl drawl was suddenly a threat. I felt like if I didn’t fix my face soon they were gonna fix it for me. So I quickly awkwardly smiled. I had to diffuse the situation. My face had such power at that moment. The director said to me “Ha! Nice angry face! Dial it back next time that was a bit too intense for a ten-year-old!”
My angry face isn’t my own. My attitude isn’t my own. It comes from two grandmothers who had 14 kids between them. It comes from men who drank, beat them, yelled, cussed, and didn’t properly give love. It came from that being repeated in smaller ways…