Evelyn C. Fortson

African American Author of Women's Fiction


I’m the sort of person that love to have discussions about various topics with friends and family. So, when my book club met yesterday the topic of how you identify yourself was brought up. Usually when someone is asked that question it is in relation to sexual identification, but not so when the topic was discussed yesterday. The youngest woman at the table was speaking in regard to race and sex. She saw herself as a woman first and Black second.

I found her perspective to be fascinating to say the least. I told myself it must be a generational thing because I have always identified myself as a Black Woman, specifically an African American Woman.

I came home from the discussion with the subject matter lingering in the back of my mind as I greeted my husband and grandkids. I thought about menial things such as whether to cook dinner or get take-out all while the question of identify floated within the walls of my consciousness.

I asked myself why Black first and not female? And this is why. The hue of my skin bear witness to the fact that I am Black. I share physical and social qualities which are distinct within the Black experience in America. There is a shared experience in my Blackness that I have not shared with females of other races in America.

For me Black is how I see myself because of the strength and beauty that it means to me. The danger that I find in identifying as female first is a forgetting of the contributions of the Black woman and a melding into the collective female culture. I remember a period in our recent history where people were walking around saying, “I don’t see color. I see people.” That was always offensive to me. Every time I heard that phrase, I thought that people’s culture, tradition, history, and religion were being diminished even though it was not the speakers intend.

I don’t know if it is generation gap or something more profound happening when young Black female see themselves as women first and Black second. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not, all I know it is interesting topic and a question you might want to ask yourself.

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Change comes whether we like it or not. Every holiday I’m reminded how different things are. When my parents were alive my family and I always had someplace to go to celebrate the holidays and be with family. My parents have gone home to be with the ancestors and the holidays are forever changed for those left behind.

My siblings and their children are spread out in different cities and states, and we have drifted apart.

I’m older now and the way I look at things have changed. I’m finally getting to the point where I can let go of some of the hurt that others have inflicted. Once I strived to understand the why of it, now I chalk it up to it is what it is. This may seem like a defeatist attitude and maybe it is, but it minimizes the pain.

People leave our lives, whether it is within their control or not. People change how they feel about you, they change the way they treat you sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worst…but change happens. So, the best thing I can do now is to remember the good times fondly, but I can’t dwell on them. They are memories that I do not want to forget even as they are fading.

I’m creating new memories now with the people that have chosen to share their lives with me and I hope that they will look back on the times we spent together and smile.

I wish those good old days could have lasted forever. I wish I could have captured those times in a jar that I could open when love and joy are in short supply.

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A generational curse is a habit or behavior that has been passed down from one generation to another. Often times it is done without awareness of it and sometimes it is done intentionally.

We live in a world where money is power and if you don’t have money, you may feel that you have to do something that will lead you down a path of destruction. A path that may swallow up your children and your children’s children. Some of us have been living under a curse without realizing it. All we know is that nothing seems to work out for us, so in time you give up trying.

If you grow up in a household where self-destructive behavior is normalized than that behavior is what you do. How can a child dream to be something that they have never seen?

A lot of our young people are struck in menial jobs if they are working at all. Why aren’t our kids motivated? There seems to be a hopelessness among some of our young people. They seem to be struck, so how do we help them?

We adults have to start talking to our children about their future. We need to help them to see a bigger world then the neighborhood that they live in. Positive affirmations are huge. I know my life would have been different if someone had told me I could dream. Get a job, get a good job with the county, state or the federal government was the mantra when I was growing up. Now we need to tell our kids that they can achieve anything that they can imagine, and we also need to tell them that it’s going to take a lot of work. We need to teach our children our history in America and the world. We need to start with ourselves and show our children that self-destructive patterns and behaviors can be broken.

Once we have a positive sense of self then we can pass that down to them. We are living in an age where technology has opened up the entire world to us. We do not have to rely on others for the truth we can seek the truth on our own. My son is always sending me links to things that I may not know. Sometimes I go down a rabbit hole with him but more often than not my son has given me so much to think about. Not only is there a lot to think about he has shown me an unfamiliar perspective.

Breaking generational curses will come about when we stop and acknowledge that something is not right and vow to change.

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