Damned Brown Girl Tears

I remember he cried.

Once as he left to go back to wherever it was he lived at that time in my life; he cried.

His tears I noticed only after my own. I kicked and I screamed. I wailed and begged him not to leave and not to put me down. I remember the rickety powder blue and chipped white porch we stood on outside of my maternal grandmother’s house. He carried me as far as he could outside of the door before he had to put me down and walk away to his car.

He put me down and said his “I have to go now,” speech but I didn’t want to hear any of it. I didn’t care what he was saying or why he was saying he needed to leave. I only wanted him to take me with him or him to stay with me.

He did neither of those things though. Instead he peeled me off him, stopped for a short minute to sniff and wipe his own tears (he never wiped mine), and he disappeared. I don’t think I cried that way to him over anything else ever again.m (until the last time I saw him alive).

For the first time ever, as I think back to this day…as I see him, my father, young and handsome in his black leather coat; with his maroon sweater, and his deep brown high top fade…I also see me.

I see myself: the little brown girl with ponytails and ribbons and bows. I see my little outfit (not as detailed as I remember his). Maybe it was corduroy and maybe it was brown. I had been dressed up nice and pretty that day because the adults around me knew he was coming to visit.

I see that little brown girl; dressed up nice and pretty; in distress. She’s crying and she’s screaming the way my son once screamed after he’d been left with people he didn’t like; who did mean things to him. That little brown girl is crying the way babies cry when mamas leave one too many times for a weekend with friends.

Today I finally see her.

…and I realize this instance to be a moment that broke her heart.

I don’t remember who grabbed that little girl to take her back into the old country house. I don’t remember her daddy’s car or what it looked like driving off that day. I don’t remember anything else that happened or that might have been said later that evening.

I just know that this moment stuck; and it shaped how that little brown girl viewed and related to her daddy and to other men she encountered. It also sent a damning message to her about the value of her little brown baby girl tears.

They don’t matter, the message said. The tears of little bitty girls like you are damned the minute they well up.

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