Rich Black Girl Problems
Day 1 – Monday, June 15th, 2015
I've been standing at the baggage carousel for about ten minutes now, nothing to do but eavesdrop on the other Americans that I’m standing next to. I noticed this group of older, married Black couples back in Miami when they were standing in front of me on the line to get our tickets and pay for our luggage. I don’t know about them but my bags were $65 to check because they weighed fifty-four pounds. Thank goodness I decided to leave some of my books home before I left Baltimore. Had no idea the airline charged for bags based on their weight.
I'm a curious squirrel, listening in on each cluster of these conversations.
"My son is finishing up at Yale but my Kelly, she dropped out of Julliard and moved to LA.”
“Really?” The only white woman in their group of 6 wanted to know more.
“She says she wants to be an actress. She’s says to me, ‘Dad, I need an apartment.’” He closes his eyes as he laughs, letting his head fall backward in slow motion. I am reminded of Uncle Phil from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The white lady continues to listen with her peachy-perched lips. “This girl doesn’t know what she wants to do. I wish she would finish school. She’s almost 25 now.”
“I remember those days.”
I don’t. I think to myself, inconspicuously listening, trying to remain as Cuban-looking as possible to avoid the possibility of airport security asking me for an itinerary – something the woman who helped me get my VISA warned me might happen but I didn’t take heed. A security man in a pair of skin-tight uniform pants approached one of the women in the group of Black Americans and asked for her itinerary. My eyes wandered toward the carousel that still hadn’t moved. It was going on 30 minutes now and we were still standing there. I slowly stepped away from them so I wouldn’t be mistaken for an American in their group. But I was still close enough to finish listening.
“So, did you get her an apartment?”
“Of course I did. I can’t let the girl be homeless. Kelly is just having a hard time figuring it all out. She started at Yale and said she hated it. She switched to NYU and hated it too. She just knew Julliard was it. But I wasn’t surprised when she called me and said she wanted to leave again. Her mother was upset but I know my girl. I knew it was coming.”
“You’re a lot like my father.”
“But I am nothing like my own.”
I smiled to myself. I couldn’t relate to Kelly on any level whatsoever but I was inspired. She has options that most people of color can only dream of… Not just options but freedom. I certainly don’t want my daughter to be 25 and still depending on her father and I but at the same time, I want her to have the same problems: one too many options, full-fledged autonomy, and the security to be free-spirited and fly from one venture to another with affluent parents to fall back on.