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Evelyn C. Fortson

African American Author of Women's Fiction


I am hoping this is an asinine question. I am hoping that no one thinks like this anymore. There was a time when people that you loved and trusted felt the need to inform you that you were too black to wear red, yellow, coral, orange or any color that was too loud for your dark skin. Do not laugh because I am sure that women of a certain age have heard this before, especially if your complexion is darker than a paper bag.

I do not remember my mother telling me that I was too black to wear loud colors. I am sure she was more subtle. The message was insidiously ingrained in my consciousness by the time I was old enough to buy my own clothes. I was an adult with a child when I finally got the courage to wear a red sweater to work. I was feeling good, and I thought I was looking good, when a co-worker gestured for me to come to her desk. She leaned toward me as if she were going to tell me a secret.

“You know you’re too dark to be wearing that red sweater.” She declared.

And just like that I was that black little girl who was too dark to wear red.

I am a grandmother now, and I am ashamed to admit that I do not own a red sweater, blouse, dress, or shoes for that matter. I wear loud colorful clothing now, but somehow, I

have managed to steer away from the color red. I have made a promise to myself that the next time I see a pretty red dress, shoes, lipstick, etc. I am going to buy it and wear it proudly, because I owe it to the little girl in me to be fearless. I owe it to her to reject the dominant culture’s standard of beauty.

I would love to hear your story. Have you ever been told that you could not wear something because of the color of your skin?

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Have you ever told your children that you were once a young child who dreamed of conquering the world? Do your children only know you as their mother, the person that cooks, cleans, and make their dreams come true.

Now, that my son is an adult with children of his own we speak for hours about the things that we believe in, our hopes and dreams for the future. He no longer sees me just as his mother; but as a woman who is still dreaming dreams and is hopeful for a brighter tomorrow.

My, son saw me get up and go to work all, of his childhood, and most, of his adult life. When he was young, he never knew that his mother was tired of the daily grind of going to work, cooking, cleaning, going to bed and doing it all over again. I, hope he saw the joy he brought me. I now watch him go to work every day to provide for his family, and I see the joy that his children bring him by their very presence.

My, son like myself set aside dreams that he had before he had children, in order, to secure their future. That is what parents do, but I want my son to know that his dreams do not have to die. Langston Hughes asked the question in A Montage of a Dream Deferred, “What happens to a dream deferred?”

My answer to that question would be dreams can lay dormant until they are really to be birth. They do not have to dry up, fester like a sore, or stink like rotten meat. Hold on to your dreams, keeping planning, praying, and putting yourself into position to be successful for when the time is right to live out your dreams.

Share your dreams with your young children, let them know when you have achieved what you set out to achieve, so that they can learn to dream and set goals for themselves early in life. If your children are adults, it is important that you show them that it is never too late to dream.... to achieve.

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As the initiate shock of the pandemic and quarantine wore off, I like a lot of us asked myself, “What lessons am I to learn from this?” After 15 months this is what I know to be true.

1. God is in control.

2. It is God who numbers my days.

3. I want to live.

4. Life is beautiful.

5. I am grateful.

6. Creativity is awesome.

7. Peace is priceless.

8. Family is everything.

9. Loving yourself and others is necessary.

10. Mental Health is something you have, to work at.

I could keep going, but I would love to hear what you have learned in the 15 months that you were forced to be still.

The pandemic and quarantine have left an indelible impression on my mind, heart, and spirit. I hope it has made me move differently in this world because the person I was 15 months ago was just going through the motion, still trying to recover from the devastating loss of family members. Today I, genuinely want to live my life to the fullest, I want to see the world and experience all the joy that God has in store for me.

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