By-Products of Segregation,
Integration and Pasteurization
by Shannon Palmer Bennett
July/August 2011 in The Multiracial Activist
My mother and I just returned from a ten-day journey together. If you’re an introvert pretending to be an extrovert like me, you can understand the sheer horror in spending ten days with anyone other than the one who shares your fingerprint profile.
The issue of race came up quite often during our conversation. She wants me to recognize that she is a product of segregation. I want her to recognize that I am a product of integration. Our personal experiences provide two very different points of view. She is frustrated. I am silent. We agree to disagree on most things related to race and the perception thereof.
Our travels took us to Texas. Abilene. ACU, where I was scheduled to attend a week of classes as part of a distance learning program. Our travels took my mother back to the school that grudgingly admitted her, one she left after a grueling and oppressive semester.
It’s kinda poetic. The unfulfilled prophecy of the militant, black, coed is fulfilled through her biracial daughter.
The story reads like a script. This is not the same Abilene Christian University. My favorite professor is half of an interracial marriage and we converse about diversity, multiculturalism and biraciality. Her dear friend and professor is an advocate of equity and inclusion and we converse about my role as a minority woman making moves in higher education. There are signs of progression all around and I am comfortable here, as comfortable as I am at my alma mater, a historically black university; maybe even more so.
This feeling saddens and confuses me because questions of my purpose rise and fall like turbulence over the southeast.
When we return home, exhausted and dehydrated from over a week of 100 degree weather, I reach for the pitcher of cold water on the second shelf and accidentally knock the gallon onto the floor. Standing in the sea of milk, I crack and the emotion of the week, what I have learned and where I go from here overwhelms me. By the time I have dried the mess, my eyes are also dry and the empty jug in the recycling bin catches my eye.
June 22, 2011.
There is no sense in crying over spilled milk, especially when it was sour.
I’ve got some sour milk in my life. There are circumstances and situations that have long since expired. There are also a few expiration dates that are approaching. Like July 15, 2011, on which my 32nd year of life will expire. Some dates are not as exact but the time has passed for me to pour some things out.
I’m not crying over spilled milk. In fact, I’m looking through the refrigerator to see what else needs to be tossed. Then I’m gonna clean out the refrigerator and make room for some new, fresh, wholesome goodies. Please don’t mistaken this as a profession of “dieting”, it’s a metaphor for my life, specifically…my career.
Sometimes our milk is the circumstances of our past and the experiences in our history, and they too need to be spilled because they spoil the circumstances of our future and the experiences of our present.
By the end of our adventure, a crazy hotel manager, a flat tire and misread paperwork united us in our frustration over the spilled milk but the joy in “swimming” together for the first time, finding that special bargain and landing at home safely allowed us to keep from being soured by our ordeals.
Shannon Palmer Bennett is a single mom, student, student affair professional and blogger of mixed race championing for common sense in the midst of common stupidity.
Originally published at mulattotude.