Photo by Starnes at Nappy
We’re not ready to go gently. Heck, why should we? That’s like giving up. We don’t do that.
Gen X black women are still alive and kicking. We’re just in that nether region where we’re neither young nor old … and our joints are confused as to what the hell is going on.
Our brains still want to party on Friday nights but our mouths frantically start yawning at 10pm as precursor to completely shutting us down at 10:30. Like the clang of the clock counting down to midnight warning Cinderella to get her behind in the carriage — quick! Before she reverts back to scullery-hood!–our uncontrollable yawning is our body’s warning that it’s about to drop us like a sack of potatoes and it doesn’t care where we are.
I distinctly remember a time when I was able to stay up all night and go to work the next day, none the wiser. Looked as fresh as a daisy, all hyped up on caffeine, youthful ignorance and popping handfuls of Hot Tamales® candies.
Who am I kidding, I still pop handfuls of Hot Tamales® — I’m not dead and I still have tastebuds. (I’m not getting paid for this endorsement but I wouldn’t mind if I were. ~*hint, hint*~ I’m happy to accept payment in Hot Tamales® :-).)
It would not be pretty if I tried that today because Gen X bodies require sleep, and lots of it. I remember back in my first year in college many years ago and Psych 101 reading about people not having enough sleep and experiencing walking hallucinations. I’m pretty sure that’s what happens to me when I get less than eight hours of sleep, if my visions of the copy machine turning into a slot machine is any indication.
But I’m still way too young to completely succumb to wrapping myself in a quilt and curling into a rocking chair at night. Though, that sounds extremely pleasant, I will not give in!
I force myself to drive at night because I’m not ready to say “oh no, I can’t possibly go out … I don’t drive after the sun goes down.”. It doesn’t matter if I don’t have a particular here to go, it’s the principle. I’m not ready to take that leap.
Let me tell you what black Gen Xers can still do: Almost everything!
Despite how I may have made it sound, we are a very strong and sturdy lot; we do what we need to do to keep things turning.
Sometimes it feels like the world just wants us to slink away and make room for younger folks. But we’re nothing if not resilient.
We’re the latchkey generation!
We know how to survive even when there’s no place for us. And black women know how to survive when there’s no place and active hatred against us. It has to be noted that a lot of Karens and Kens are Gen X, to our shame.
We see your hatred and … raise you even more black female excellence! How’s that?
We’re not going anywhere. But to the haters, feel free to waste all your time and energy, embarrassing your family and friends trying to disrupt our lives. At four hundred years in you really should have figured out that we will go back to Africa only if and when we want to, not because you scream it at us on the street (though I would love to visit, I hear it’s beautiful!). Frankly, at our age, haters really should be worrying about staying healthy and not spending precious life force hating people, but you do you.
What I want?
I’d like the world to stop trying to push us over the cliff. We might be older, but we’re still younger than several generations, one of which will remain unnamed because they’ve had their name dragged through the mud pretty good, recently… OK?
Just treat us like you would treat an older sister. Treat us like you would treat a co-worker one level up in seniority. Treat us like we’re you, only a little wiser with joints that creak at inappropriate times.
I’d like clothes that don’t make me feel too matronly or too teensy. I’m mature, I’m not ready to close up shop. I’m still youngish, but I don’t want to look like Whatever Happened to Mary Jane. There’s a happy medium, right?
How about wider shoes that don’t look like blocks of cement? As we age our feet get wider. Is there a fashion rule somewhere that wider shoes have to be uglier? How about, I don’t know, this is a shot in the dark here, but maybe consider the same styles only … you know … wider? How about that?
What we want?
Articles, news and posts that are designed specifically for our needs because we’re still here. We’re the ones spending our money to keep the generations before us and after us afloat. While you’re creating ads targeting those other (larger) generational blocks you seem to forget those blocks come to us for the money to buy their stuff. Funny, we’re not forgotten when someone needs something.
Everyone should show Gen X a little more respect.
So don’t think you’ll get anywhere by ignoring us. We’re the generation that created the internet and hip hop. We gave the world Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, En Vogue, Prince, SWV, George Michael, TLC, Boy George, Queen Latifa, Kurt Cobain, Karyn White, Halle Berry, New Edition, Michelle Obama, BabyFace, Gabrielle Union, Madonna, Toni Braxton, Mariah Carey, Kerry Washington, Garcelle Bauvais, Aunjanue Ellis, Regina King, and many, many more… people that broke barriers and are known the world over. Ignore us and we’ll send LL Cool J over to lick his lips and write a rap taking you down a peg or two.
Maybe our joints are making a lot of noise, but that doesn’t change the fact that our brains are sharper than they ever were at twenty. Our life experience has given us wisdom that can’t be bought, taught in a book, or borrowed. Our ability to pivot and adjust to whatever obstacles life throws at us is legendary. Our determination to create our own path and creativity and to think outside the box has moved our country to cutting edge heights never imagined before; younger folks are riding on the advancements we made. And despite our challenges, on the traits that really matter we’re only getting better with time.
I have written about this before, and I’ll keep writing about it until we get the credit we deserve for our contributions to society. Black women are always the most forgotten and the least appreciated segment of the of the most forgotten, least appreciated generation in broader society. But we see each other. We know each other. We love each other.
So, you can keep your eyes on the other big generations, if you want. It won’t stop us and it won’t erase us. We’re growing older? You’re gonna hear about it. We are Gen X; we don’t do anything quietly. We won’t go gently and we refuse to be forgotten.
This article was originally posted at https://exploringmyhappy.com, September 28, 2021.