Growing up in a culture( African American) that’s suppose to be traditionally known for embracing size, I can tell you growing up was quite the...
ate aprox. 9 krystal burgers thru the course of the day.
judgeth me not.
TRIGGER WARNING: CREEPY CRAWLIES, SPIDERS AND EXTREME VIOLENCE
So, we were broke growing up. Like…beyond broke. Busted, sometimes. Folks see what the picture looks like now and probably wouldn’t guess…but it’s the truth. You learn to keep a good sense of humor…and understand the macabre in your heart. Like, my sister’s car for example. She had this 1987, Ford Escort station wagon (when car companies still made station wagons). Man, it was like a big, beige rocket to freedom. Only problem was, it’s not like my sister coulda bought that thing new. She bought it used. Hella used. So…that big, beige rocket to freedom was also sometimes the cursed, big, beige rocket to at least far enough away from the pain of home.
Now this was a car that was tragically funny. It was a hooptie to end all hoopties. No a/c (it was a car from the 80s - that shit was optional). Overheated like shit about 3x a week. No FM radio. The passenger door didn’t open once the passenger was inside the vehicle (you had to wait for someone to get you out). You were lucky if the muffler didn’t fall off (again) at the slightest rumbling. Ahhh, but this one especially tragic day late summer just before my 16th birthday, this hooptie got elevated to bringer of death.
Oh yes. On this fateful day, all I wanted was to escape. Just for a little while. We couldn’t afford a/c in the house, and it was all my grandmother could do but stay alive. I got terrified for her in extreme temps. So I asked my sister if we could go to Kroger to cool down. She agreed. Man, I thought I’d won the lotto! And I did. The terrifying moment lotto.
So we are gettin ready to go. I roll out first. Now mind you, hooptie had had the windows open for about, ooh, forever. It was a car without a/c in the summertime in the south. Why on earth would someone have thought to close the windows? Well. Goodie for me, I run out to the car. My sister runs back inside the house. “I’ll be right back.” I should have known then, like a good horror movie watcher, that things weren’t going to be alright once she said that.
So I tilt the seat back, (probably the only thing that the car could do reliably at this point) and think of how good that a/c is gonna feel and how free I’m gonna be listening to the oldies AM station. As my eyes are shut, I start to feel something that feels like rain. I don’t think too much about it. It continues - so I open my eyes. I am fairly certain that the Space station could have heard my scream-for when my eyes adjusted to what I was seeing I was covered in spiders.
I ain’t talking one or two or ten. I mean, total, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
sort of creepy crawly situation in that 1987 Ford Escort station wagon (which, btw, totes turned into the “1987 Ford Escort station wagon of death for me from than moment until that car went back to the firey satan grave from whence it came).
I tried getting out - but I couldn’t. I couldn’t because the damn hooptie door wouldn’t open. There was not a single crevice or part of my skin that didn’t have spiders. My sister had come running out - desperate to save me, she in her haste, could not open the car door. I began to hyperventilate. I could feel them in my mouth. I stopped breathing. My sister reached in the window of death and pulled me out of that car, stripped me naked, hosed me down, and threw a blanket over me. I opened my eyes screamed and promptly fell out.
To this day, when my sister hears me tell new friends this story so they understand, she always runs up with tears streaming down her face saying, “I shoulda known better - I could’ve done more…”
Since that moment, me and anything over 4 legs? Yeah. We aren’t friends. That wasn’t some beautiful fucking spiritual spider magic moment. It wasn’t some due hard, nut up and face your fear, extreme spidering moment. I don’t think it was a teaching moment at all. It was the most terrifying thing that had happened to me - feeling trapped, unable to escape, or see, or scream, or breathe…covered in tiny legs, wondering what they would do to me. It was just awful.
This was the experience I had just two days also before I was violently attacked in a bathroom (by a human, I’m afraid) who left me bloody, beaten, violated, half-deaf, and near death. For me-a spider isn’t just a fucking spider. It’s a reminder of how fragile life is. An easy trigger point for my PTSD, because the feelings were so similar. An encounter with Stetson cologne, a certain colour tile in a bathroom, name calling and a spider can look the same for me-all triggers of mine. In that moment, I don’t just see a spider - I am a teenager, covered in spiders from head to toe, trapped, barely breathing in a 1987 Ford Station Wagon that was turned to scrap metal nearly 20 years ago. Or I am reeling from a head wound that is no longer there in a bathroom that probably doesn’t even exist anymore - screaming for help. That is my alternate reality. That is what PTSD looks like.
Why on earth would I share such an awful story? Because I’ve heard way too many folks try to make the terrifying into something spiritual, and folks being called any number of insults for being unable to connect with reality over a bug. First - I ain’t in need of a spiritual experience that could kill me. Next, being called a girl or using femininity to put down someone for your perception of their “weakness” is patriarchy at its finest and fucked up. And finally, that person you’re putting down may very well be going through something they cannot think their way out of. Not understanding is also not an excuse for trying to get someone to just not have that reaction. If you can’t handle the reaction - walk away and find someone who can.
And to my fellow scared to death of creepy crawly types - you don’t have to use self-depricating remarks about your fears. Reach out for help the best ways you know how - and try not to smash yourself down in the process. The real pals are the ones who don’t judge.
Lower income for all women, particularly those of color, means less money to support their families with necessities such as housing, food, education, and health care. Closing the pay gap is even more important for women of color who are more likely than their white counterparts to be breadwinners.
The long-term wage gap hurts families of color tremendously, forcing families to choose between putting food on the table or saving for a college education and retirement. On average, an African American woman working full time loses the equivalent of 118 weeks of food each year due to the wage gap. A Latina loses 154 weeks’ worth of food. The stubbornly persistent gender-based wage gap adds up substantially over the lifetime of a woman’s career. For women of color the loss of savings over a 30-hour-a-week to a 40-hour-a-week work lifespan is significant. A woman of color will have to live on one-third to 45 percent less than a white man based on the average benefits that are afforded through Social Security and pension plans. Research shows that a woman’s average lifetime earnings are more than $434,000 less than a comparable male counterpart over a 35-year working life.
Analysis done in 2012 by the Center for American Progress illustrates that the money lost over the course of a working woman’s lifetime could do one of the following:
—Feed a family of four for 37 years
—Pay for seven four-year degrees at a public university
—Buy two homes
—Purchase 14 new cars
Simply be saved for retirement and used to boost her quality of life when she leaves the workforce
Lifetime earnings are even lower for women of color because they face higher levels of unemployment and poverty rates. In March 2013 unemployment rates of black [women] and Latinas were significantly higher than their white counterparts at 12.2 percent and 9.3 percent respectively compared to white women at 6.1 percent. According to the National Women’s Law Center, poverty rates among women, particularly women of color, remain historically high and unchanged in the last year. The poverty rate among women was 14.6 percent in 2011—the highest in the last 18 years. For black women and Latinas that same year, the poverty rate was 25.9 percent and 23.9 percent, respectively.