Growing up, one of my mum’s favourite terms was “economize”. She used this term in reference to almost everything under the sun, from asking us (insert: my brother) not to finish all slices of bread to suggesting that there wasn’t a need for too many outfits: one could “economize” what they had.
My mum is a very smart woman but wasn’t educated beyond high school. She wasn’t much of a consumer of news or reader or books from all my recollection, so her intellect was and is still innate. I didn’t realize just how deep it was until I was admitted to University to study Economics: the study of the scarcity of resources and how we manage that.
I introduced my mum only because I am in awe of how she managed to keep my 4 siblings and I afloat, with very limited resources. I grew up in a middle-class, two-parent household and while they both worked outside the home, finances were always tight. Yet I didn’t know that until I was much older and seeking the more luxurious items in life: such as trendy shoes or clothes. Throughout my early childhood, my mom had organized our family into a well-run economic system where we all pitched in with chores: cooking, farming, helping each other with homework etc. These kept us all busy in our little areas of expertise that we didn’t notice any lack.
Most world Governments that thrive do so by running a similar establishment to what my mum did. They encourage and develop many competencies in their citizenry so that each contributes to the whole. The farmers can add to the food basket, as teachers teach, doctors heal etc. Ideally, each group is compensated fairly (my mum fed us well) and can then purchase the goods or services they can’t produce. Eventually, these citizens can develop their skills enough to market them outside of their immediate surroundings thereby presenting opportunities to grow their incomes even more.
I am reliving my Economics study through the lens of my mum’s home. At what point did the perfectly “economized” household start experiencing scarcity? Was it real or created by outside notions of basic needs? It is possible for an Economy to thrive while existing in a wider, more diversified environment, which creates new supply and demand for non-native goods and services.
I will keep tacking these points only because I do extremely love Economics as a social science but also because I am a dreamer and believe that if I can figure out how the world can achieve Economic stability, as seen from my mum’s eyes, perhaps world peace is achievable after all.
The line at the first food wasn’t particularly long and she and her family were next in line to order. Engrossed in a deep conversation with her teenage son, she didn’t hear the “next customer” shouted by the pleasantly polite cashier/ order taker.
The lady behind her asked if they were in line to order; a pretty routine question albeit worded in a conclusive manner: as if they stood in fast food lines to converse with no intentions of ordering food. She said yes she was and continued speaking to her son. At this point, the lady behind her made a move to go to the now yelling employee and it was then that the black woman noticed what was going on and moved ahead to place her order. The “about to take your place while you yap” lady took it upon herself to comment to black lady that the server had been calling the next customer in line, by this time having abandoned her quest to be said next customer. The black lady, with as much malice as she could muster in her voice, told her she hadn’t heard the beckon and would be placing her order now thank you very much. Almost took your spot lady then proceeded to tell black lady that she’d been advising her about the open ordering counter all along. Please insert the all knowing “mmmhhhhh” emoji here and roll some eyes for good measure.
You see, black lady was me and the random lady is somewhere living her life- probably having completed forgotten the exchange or full of venom for others like me.
I wouldn’t have thought much of it either if my son had not told me later that he’d thought I over reacted; that was heavy coming from my teenage son who’s always found me the voice of reason. I justified my reaction by stating that a) she could just have told me the server was calling me instead of asking if I was in line to order b) the move to bypass me and then change her story once caught in action justified my snark.
However, because I am said reasonable Libra, who always weighs everything one too many times, I did start questioning if perhaps I’d over reacted somewhat. On the one hand, the two points above are true and surely deserving of a snarky attitude. On the other hand, I had just walked about an hour in 30 degrees Celsius in my quest to reach the almighty 10K daily steps (don’t even get me started!) and my head was literally boiling.
The more likely reason though was that I had simply acquiesced to my membership in the angry black woman race. It is not a club I was glad to join but one that I now realize is perhaps a survival mechanism more so than just bad manners. It brought to mind an article I’d read in the blog Psychology today suggesting that black women are the most invisible members of society (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-social-thinker/201012/are-black-women-invisible) and must work twice as hard to be seen, let alone respected. Across the pond, black women are dealing with similar if not identical issues as we are (https://metro.co.uk/2017/08/03/black-women-are-the-least-valued-people-in-society-6808199/). The point about black women being the least desirable group of people to date is especially worrying to me as a mother to two beautifully black females who may not allow me to get rich renting their rooms to weary travelers if they can’t couple and move out at some point.
So, did I overact somewhat? of course I did. It wasn’t premeditated but at some point, one deserves some R-E-S-P-E-C-T; heck we were both standing in line to buy heart attacks in a package so I didn’t appreciate the better than thou attitude. Perhaps the angry black woman exterior is just an attempt to matter; to be visible. I daresay though that it’s all in perception because society not only ignores us but expects us to silently and obediently tow the line and anything but is met with judgement. That my loving son has already joined “the man” was perhaps the most heartbreaking part of today but now that I am card carrying member of this subclass, I will find ways to show him my point of view and perhaps some brown skin girl out there will thank me for it one day 🙂