Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lone Black Woman

I’m driving through my neighborhood with my daughters. At a distance, we see three people walking toward us.

“Girls – black people,” I say.

Two seconds later, I say, “Oh, that’s just the Jantranias. Correction girls – brown people.” (The Jantranias, who are our friends, are Indian.)

My eleven year old asks, “Why’d you say ‘black people’ Mommy?”

My sixteen year old and thirteen year old know why. They are aware of the limited amount of black people in our neighborhood and county; my youngest has yet to notice these things.

Lone Black Woman, hereafter known as LBW, derives her title from the phrase, “I was the only black person there,” something that she’s said many times in her life, especially during her twenties. As she matured, she didn’t feel the need to say it anymore because it began to have little or no relevance.

Still, at 54, she notices, but doesn’t care. If she is uncomfortable somewhere (which is rare), it is because of the culture of the environment; not because she is LBW. But even so, her discomfort doesn’t last long if she is unfamiliar with the topic being discussed or the activity going on. She will ask questions. People love to talk about themselves.

The LBW title was born when she wrote an email to an author that resulted in an exchange of fairly lengthy emails. For some reason that LBW may never remember, she let the author know that she was the “lone black woman” in her book club. The author was an Obama supporter at the time, and it may have stemmed from her wondering about LBW’s political views.

LBW wrote to another author whose speaking engagement she went to. Because of the limited amount of people who were at the reception after he spoke, she felt that he’d remember talking to her; especially because he also posed for pictures with her and her husband. In her email, she described herself as LBW – and he remembered her.

Both authors were kind and indulgent to “Author/Book Signing Groupie.”

It’s been said to stay away from topics of race, religion and politics when you want to play it safe. I’ve talked about my race here; however, this post isn’t necessarily about race. It’s more about being secure enough to relate to people as people.

How often are you the lone (fill in the blank)?

Examples: male, female, Jew, Muslim, Catholic, person without children, old person, young person, person without a college degree, southerner, northerner, heavy person, thin person, married person, unmarried person, etc.

Is it ever uncomfortable or a problem?

Like my image? LOL
Photographed by me.


Just Two Chicks said...

My daughter's drill team instructor is a black woman. I love her, because she's got this amazing personality, and has made such a difference in the lives of the girls on her team. She doesn't like to be called black though, because she says "My skin is brown, it is not black." "I am a brown woman." :) The kids in this school now say "brown," which I think is wonderful considering a few months ago, there was a teen who was trying to describe another teen, and said the word "colored." Mrs. Drill Team didn't like that, and she was quick to correct it. Seriously... I know Texas is the south, but that isn't a term I've heard spoken in my entire 40 years. Small town?

Anyway... as you can imagine, I've often felt like the lone "abnormal" woman, among the many normal women. It's not easy when your difference is seen as a choice, or immoral. It's hard to find others you can relate to... it's hard to find others who will accept your differences. It kind of "sucks" as a teenager would say. Oh well... we make our way, and make our mark. Hopefully a positive one.

I had a lot of blogs to catch up on for you!! I didn't realize I had missed so many!! I Hope you're doing well!!

Unknown said...

I love this post. I grew up in a mostly white area, but there were black families and I had black friends. My parents were always telling us that skin color meant nothing. Naturally when I dated a black man I assumed it would be fine, to my surprise this was not what they wanted. It took me a long time to get over their feelings, but I did end a relationship with a man I really loved.
This is not my Lone status, that would be Lone Overweight Woman. Now I know I'm not alone, but most of my friends and acquaintances aren't heavy, don't share my problem. I sometimes feel that those who don't know me see me as lazy or with lack of any control. Being overweight is more than a simple fix, but I know it's looked upon as negative. I don't let it slow me down, I dress well, I wear make up and do my hair, it's the kind of woman I am. I wish I was thinner but it's not always in the cards.
Very thought provoking topic!!!

Alena: Oh, Its Just Perfect! said...

Wonderful post Anita - a great discussion topic. I am often the lone, youngish female at my job. Sadly, there aren't many women in my field of IT.

Happy 2012 Anita! xo

Tabor said...

I have never really had a black friend although I have had Hispanic friends growing up in Colorado. I did have a black study partner in college but I really think she was uncomfortable with the teaming. I was hoping we would become friends since I had never known a black person...but that never happened as when the class ended I never saw her again. I will never forget how small or different I felt riding the buses in Hawaii to go to class as I was the only white person among all those Asians!

Barb said...

I don't have answers but like the questions. They make me think - how would I describe myself if I wanted someone to separate me from a crowd of other people? I do like the photo you've chosen as illustration. Once, I saw a parking lot with all black cars and one white car - it was such a vivid contrast that I can still conjure the image as I'm writing this. I think race (color) does make a person more memorable if the person is in a minority situation. Though white myself, I'm mother and grandmother to non white children - I'm aware of how race (color) defines them as "different" if they're in a room full of white people. I don't expect any negative context or discrimination - I just think people will remember them visually because they stand out from the crowd.

MissKris said...

Eons ago in 1972, when I graduated from high school, I got a job working at a big hospital in Portland, OR. One of my very first and best friends there was a wonderful young black woman. Coming from a small town in Washington State and living in Vancouver, WA, thru my teens I'd encountered few black people in my life. We became so close she told me she forgot I was white most of the time. When she gave birth to a baby I went to visit her at her home. While I was there, family and friends arrived and soon I was the only white person amongst 20 or so. I had one of those epiphany moments all of a sudden..."So this must be what it feels like to be the lone black person in a house full of whites." A real 'light bulb' moment. Now, living here in the Detroit area, race still is no issue for me. People are people. That's what I strive to see in every person I encounter...who they are, not what color or ethnic background they might be.

Anonymous said...

wow-you hit a nerve. I left America at the age of 18 and since then have always been in the minority group as far as race goes and many times as far as religion goes. Now, living in's both! I've been ok here for the most part but the other day when we were shopping two little girls and their mother were in the same isle as I was. I saw one of the little girls point at me and snicker and then whisper something to the other little girl. There mother was too busy to notice. I remember feeling ...hurt, alone and sad at that moment. I just wanted to go home. I never mentioned it to my husband, actually-this is the first time I've mentioned it at all. Most of the time I do ok, people are friendly and I try my best to communicate and get along with the culture. I think what hurt me was that was children-you know? My kids are "half" and we have always been a multiracial family so we never ever think anything of seeing someone 'different". If anything our family has always been sensitive to the needs other minority groups around us and have tried to be a support. The kids in the store...that really kind of depressed me.

Bernie said...

I is smart
I is kind
I is important

I will never forget these words from "The Help" Such a shame that any of us have to be known for one thing when we are made up of so many things. I prefer to be know for my heart, character and morals than the color of my skin. Great discussion post Anita, only wish we would be beyond this subject in the 21st century but in my heart I know it is something that will always "be" there......:-)Hugs

Buckeroomama said...

That's part of what I love about Hong Kong. So many people here are "lone" something or the other (lone Chinese that doesn't speak Chinese, lone non-Asian, lone overseas Chinese, lone expat, etc.) that it often doesn't really matter anymore once you get over it.

Abby said...

Interesting as always! I was often the "lone woman" at meetings when I was an engineer. It really wasn't usually an issue, except for maybe the older men who tripped over themselves to show that they were comfortable working with a young woman engineer, which just went to show that they weren't.

Abby said...

By the way, I love the image you chose to accompany this post! :D

Jenny said...

Wow. This was some powerful writing.

I'm just the tired looking one.

With the bags under my eyes.


It looks like your New Year is off to a creative start!

Hope that continues for you!

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

What a wonderful post sweetie. One time or another we are all in that 'lone' position.

I agree, we should see the person, not the race, color or creed. Amen...'Nuff said!!!

God bless and have yourself a marvelous weekend girl!!!

Rebecca S. said...

Yeah...I'm often the lone Catholic. Someone will make a joke about Catholics and not even realize they may have caused offense. I'm okay with it, because I'm so used to it. Catholics have been 'the bad guy' for as long as I can remember.
However, people can't pick me out in a crowd and point out my difference like they can with a LBW.
I suppose in this day and age, it is just best to be comfortable with who you are, maintain a sense of humour, and always be the best lone-whatever you can be. Like you!
xo Rebecca

Chapters From My Life said...

I was born a Muslim but have failed terribly in embracing the religions. Living among the fanatically religion oriented people I do feel alone so often. Now I have found company in my son who shares my views. I did not influence him, may be it was in the genes.

Linda Hensley said...

I love it when people talk about the stuff common wisdom says we're not supposed to talk about. How else can we really understand each other? I grew up in an entirely white world. When I went to college, I moved to an entirely black neighborhood (until more students moved in). I found it shocking the first day. By the time I moved away a few years later, I forgot to notice what color people are unless color was relevant in a conversation. Some day maybe we'll get to a point where color ceases to be relevant?

Tammy@Beatrice Banks said...

You always come up with the most thought provoking posts. I guess everyone must feel like the lone one at some point in time. I'm a conservative Pentecostal. Sometimes my dress and lifestyle is different than friends and co-workers and I become the lone woman in the room. But sometimes that can be a good thing. After all, if we were all the same life would be quite boring.

Unknown said...

Being an eclectic, western, gun totin', pacifist, liberal, yep, I'm a bit eccentric too, does make me feel a bit like a loner when I'm not noticing how everyone else around me is also feeling like a loner which really makes me just one of the crowd. o_o

Julie Magers Soulen Photography

Cathy said...

Hello Anita
Food for thought definitely.

On more occasions than I like to remember I've been the 'odd one out' Raised with a service/military background to Irish parents living mostly in England in the local areas and not on the camps/bases set me apart from day one.

Married a serviceman, became a young parent of a larger family than most, travelled the world, (by the time I was 30 I'd lived in 5 different countries) migrated to a new country where to begin with nearly all the people I associated with were older mums with children in the same grade as mine or younger and childless most of whom had never been far from home let alone out of the state.

Oh I could go on - all that and much much more makes up my life.
Take care

Mari said...

I loved this post. I think I have led a somewhat sheltered life, in that I've not often been the lone person, but I've had my times and it can feel awkward. Kudo's to you for writing about this!

Deidra said...

I know this story. I'm glad you told it. And you told it well.

Thanks so much for spending time today over at Jumping Tandem! It was fun to have you hang out for a while!

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I have to think about this. Often, the only woman. Living in Salt Lake City 25 years ago, I often felt the Lone Ranger. Nowadays, I guess I don't even think about it. Perhaps I should be more aware of my surroundings, but as you said, I, too, have matured. Looked beyond the years when I was the oldest mom or only mom in the baseball stands with a reading book. Or most often, the only one who thought a certain way. Most interesting discussion.

Tracey said...

I have often been the lone alot-of-things. It made me uncomfortable. But now that I am older, it doesn't bother me much. Though, as a stay-at-home mom with young children my life has contracted a bit, so maybe it does still bother me, and I just don't have the opportunity to be bothered. Hmm...

InSeason Mom Cynthia said...

I had to read your post again to make sure the LBW was a term that you coined and not an acronym that I should have known:) Love the acronym, post and comments. As a black Christian woman from the South who married for the first time at age 40 and gave birth at 42and 44 to her first children, I can definitely relate to this post!

gayle said...

I really enjoyed reading this post and your views! I am so glad that my parents raised me to not notice things like color, religion etc etc!!

Anonymous said...

It is funny—almost...That people get so up tight about religion. I suppose it explains what there are so many different ones. I have a list that numbers in the thousands.

I have never really understood why the color of skin makes people different? To some people the black race is inferior but that is just nonsense. My mom was born in West Virginia and she was taught that. Imagine that?

I don't really know what "normal" is unless it is the way I am. I feel perfectly Normal, to me, and would probably go find a shrink or
somebody to help me if I felt different and not normal.

Morality is another one of those words that musters up different ideas. It depends on your culture and the people who live in the community and those are the ones who usually set the standards for morality.

What an interesting post this one is. I have enjoyed it.

Not sure you are even aware of some of the things I have done, but if you take the time to go to

you can see a kind of history in the right sidebar.

Unknown said...

Wow! I can truly relate. I have been the lbw many times. Now I am the lbw married to a white man. It can be hard trying to fit in especially at church where I feel lonely as the lbw. But after reading your post, I realize that there are lots of "lones" out there so I'm not alone.

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

Hey sweetie, I just wanted to drop by to wish you a beautiful day!

God bless ya !!! :o)

Menopausal New Mom said...

For me, I ususally find myself the lone "university uneducated one" or "lone non physician". It can be intimidating if the group is talking shop for any length of time but for the most part, I can hold my own on all other topics. I first noticed this when a couple my husband has known for years came to stay with us (from New Zealand) for two weeks. He is a pharmacologist and his wife is a dermatologist and my hubby is a neurologist. I'm a high-school only educated insurance nerd. Once the wine started to flow though, we were all on a level playing field Lol!

Yona said...

I am usually the lone woman with no children. I'm 33 years old and I feel like I am expected to have a child or there is something wrong with me. I've been with my sweetie for 13 years. We are unmarried and I call his son, my 'stepson'. However, some people think we do not "love" each other enough or that I am barren (*rolling my eyes*) because we do not have a child together. Sooo - that's how I feel a lot of the time when I am around other females (some that know me and people I've just met) and it doesn't annoy me until people ask me "why don't you have any children yet?" -'s none of your business. Why do I have to explain myself?

Arlee Bird said...

In gatherings with my wife's family I'm usually the lone gringo. Much of the time they're speaking Spanish. It's never bothered me though. I understand a lot of what they're saying but I don't try to say anything since my Spanish speaking ability is not good.

It's all fine with me. They seem to think that my wife has a prize catch with a native white American husband and they all treat me very well.

I fact I'm starting to feel like the lone gringo in many places where I live.

I adapt and don't pay that much attention to it most of the time.

Wrote By Rote

Karen said...

I love Bernie's comment - "Such a shame that any of us have to be known for one thing when we are made up of so many things."

We shouldn't have to be afraid to describe ourselves in real terms. Just because you describe someone as black or gay or overweight, it doesn't mean it's a judgement.

In a family full of runners and athletes, I am the Lone Couch Potato.

Sr Crystal Mary said...

My children are half Italian so have soft to medium olive skin. They hardly sunburn.Whereas I, burn badly because I am so pale. They used to tease me. None of us can help the colour of our skin and I have always had friends from every nationality. I have to admit though. One time in Memphis we stopped at a service station to get petrol. My (2nd)hubby stayed at the boser filling the car while I went inside to go to the toilet. When I came out, I was the only white person there and I felt very conspicuous.I told my husband how I even felt fearful. THEN he told me we were in a bad neighbourhood. So that can happen anywhere. What I also realised was how my friend Prima who is black must have left out of place in our church. I never saw her as a diffenrent colour. I loved her so much we were just instant friends. xxx to you.

Midlife Mom said...

Interesting post and interesting comments, I read them all. I live in an area with very few people of color but have noticed more coming in all the time. Recently in school someone was asking for Timmy and being the only black child in the room I was pleased when one of the kids said "he's the one in the green shorts". I think we have come a long way! Great post!