Out of their Hole.

I went home to my home town last week. A place I spent 18 years of my life, I lived in the same house, on the same street all those years; and my mom still lives in that house on that street. At the end of my road and across the street sits a little white church with a sign out front that reads “God Save America Again.” Now that sign may seem annoying, ignorant even but nothing too out of the ordinary in Small Town America until you know one little thing about the people that enter that church every week. . . those people are known White Supremacists. They had their hey day in the 70’s and have been rather quite since but they are still there at the end of my street in my little hometown.

Now this has become a fun fact I share with people when they ask about my childhood. .. “Oh I lived in a small town, the only really note able thing about it is the white supremacist church.”  People will gasp and ask me how I handled that growing up… you know being a black woman and all.

But the funny thing is that I didn’t handle it, I didn’t have to handle it. They stayed down there on their end of the street and I felt as safe as any child could running around the town until all hours of the night. They never bothered me, there were no confrontations they simply stayed in their little church, probably hating my existence.But you know from inside their space I couldn’t have cared less about what went on inside their heads. Because as long as they stayed inside, some part of me knew that they understood the inappropriateness of what they were feeling. They knew they would be met with such resistance in this time in in America that they idea of coming “out” as what they truly were wouldn’t even cross their minds.

Flash Forward to today— 2017—- Small Town America—-

You would think we would have made progress right? Maybe that little white church has been closed up for the last year, maybe the people all scattered around the country, or with any luck made a friend of a different race and realized it was all just a lie.

Think again my friend, here we are in 2017 and for the first time in my life I felt unsafe in my hometown. The people in the little white church still ignored my presence, but someone else some stranger who has never met me and wouldn’t be able to pick me out of a line up felt they had the right to scream

WHITE POWER

At me out of the window of their car as I walked into Hobby Lobby. 

Wait, let me back up just a minute, yes you read that right. 2017, a northern state, a girl and her friends are walking into Hobby lobby to buy wedding supplies and out of no where a grown-ass man yells

WHITE POWER 

out of his window.

It was like my whole perception of my home town came crashing down like the ideals of democracy around me, this place that had always been safe and protective was now foreign and angry. Angry at me because what? I was born with black skin, because the sun doesn’t turn me an angry shade of red, because my hair reaches for the stars while yours falls flat, or angry because a black man in power did something the white men before or after him could not. .. turned so many aspects of the country around.

But there I was furious and hyperventilating in the hobby lobby parking lot, and as much as my friends wanted to help to tell me “anger and fear is what they want.”  or “Don’t let them get to you.”

They truly had no idea how that moment felt; eating away at my insides as I contemplated the true meaning of that statement; White Power . 

And over and over again  I came back to the same thing: 

These people have always existed, there hasn’t been a magical time in the last 40 years when there were no white supremacists in America, they have been stewing and hiding for 40 years waiting for their opportunity to come out of the shadows. Waiting for someone to validate their feelings again, that look all these dark skinned humans whom we have oppressed for hundreds of years have someone done us wrong feeling.

However over the last 40 years they saw the world do the exact opposite they saw a black man become president and the world embrace him they saw his wife become beloved and they had to continue to hide in their holes, angrily sipping on Bud Light and ranting about “if the confederacy had won” But something has shifted; they began to climb their way out of their holes, see the sun and once again think that they deserve so much more than I do simply because of the color of my skin. They were given the chance to once again be validated enough in their feelings that those nasty words; White Power aren’t just uttered in their Klandestine (yes the K is intentional) meeting but rather they have seen the power and they are welcomed back into the fold. 

And this is what truly made me the most sick about that sad, angry man who yelled at me that day. Not that he felt that way, because I am obviously not going to be the person to change his mind. But that he felt strong enough, that enough people would support him and that I was little enough so far below him that he could once again yell it in the streets.Because when these people are strong enough to climb out of their holes, when there are enough people in power that support them that tell them they will fix all their problems by “building a wall” that assure them the wrong doings they perceived against the White Man are legitimate then the real question is

Did the last 40 years even happen, or should I start looking for the colored drinking fountain.

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What Say Yes to the Dress doesn’t tell you. . .

Dress Say

For years I have been obsessed with Say yes to the dress, I mean who doesn’t love a 20 minute episode where you get to watch women try on 10,000 dollar dresses, where Mom and Dad just fork over whatever dollar amount it will take to make their little girl happy. I am pretty sure that I never saw a dress budget less than 2,000 dollars on that show, and whenever a girl said her budget was 2,500 dollars you could see the consultants internal eye roll and sigh as she tries to think of what dresses they have that will fit within that teeny tiny budget.

But even so I dreamed of a Randy, of someone that would magically find the dress that was just built for my body, a dress I never would have picked out for myself but sucked in all the right places and pushed out the other one. I dreamed that when my budget conscious, thrift store loving Mom saw me in this one of a kind gown she would fall in love and throw the budget out the window so that I could have this perfect thing,( Now that might have been a little ambitious).

I dreamed of the tears and screams of joy that would come from me, my mom, my bridesmaids and probably the stylist, because the dress was just that perfect. That one moment where you look in the mirror and never want to get out of that dress again in your life. . . (Damn that would have been a lot of tears.)

But I also dreamed that I would probably not fit into any of the dresses on the rack, because well I am a size 12 ( the US average by the way) but wedding dresses just run so small that I would probably be a size 16, and no one would carry that on the rack, only you know those size 6 dresses, that I haven’t fit into since 8th grade. Because again my beloved Say Yes to the Dress taught me well. . what to expect for size.

I imagined that I would have to try on many many dresses, that I would fill up my 2 hour appointment and probably walk away empty handed, that I would need to go to multiple shops and see every option before I would know for sure, before I would get that feeling.

Well it didn’t exactly go like that. . .

Let’s start with the things that did go like my dream, when I walked in to the store my mom did throw out the budget. Meaning that when asked for a budget she looked at me, and said “Well what do you want to see?” And even after that when I gave the stylist a budget she followed up with, “Well if it is perfect and it is a little more than that, I still want to see it.” This from my mom that has never worn a dress a day in her life, and is going to wear a pant suit at my wedding.  From my mom who loves thrift stores where pay 1.50 per pound and whose entire wardrobe was  Thrift Store chic before Macklemore made it cool. She wanted to see the 500-600 dollar dresses.

I also was put into some dresses that I would have never picked out for myself, Some of them pushed in all the right places and pushed out the others. While others just let everything hang in ALL the wrong ways. You know that saying a 2 lb sausage in a 1 lb casing, . . well that was me in some of this professional stylists choices.

I also did have a Randy, and by that I mean I was able to work with a male stylist, he wasn’t over the top excited about what he was doing. He wasn’t in my face about anything and he didn’t try to hard to push his agenda of what he thought I would look good in. I preferred all of this!

Now what didn’t go like my dream . . .

One a budget of 500- 600 dollars was more than enough for the dress of my dreams. I did not try on a dress that was more than 100 dollars over my 500 dollar budget and they were all beautiful. (I picked out a 549.00 dollar dress)

I did not need to be fit into a magical dress that I would have never picked out for myself. I did not need to “think outside of my comfort zone” and I wasn’t too one track minded. I know my body and it looked amazing in exactly what I wanted. I patiently tried on the dresses that were nothing like what I came in wanting. I tried on the tule, the mermaid style, the beads and the ballgowns. . and even liked some of them more than I imagined I would. But none of them were for me. When my bridesmaids walked up with my dress in hand it was exactly what I had told them I wanted on the ride over. They listened to me and picked out my dream dress, fit to all my specific qualifications. ( And contrary to Mr. Randy, bridesmaids, moms, sisters make great shoppers off the rack, they know you way better than a stylist anyway).

I also fit comfortably into almost every dress we tried on. They have rack sizes that range from 0 ( which was the size of the girl standing next to me) to my lovely 12 and I tried on a 14 for good measure. I also was a size 12 in my wedding dress, just like the pants I wore into the salon. There was no up-sizing in any of the gowns I tried on. So don’t be scared of the sizing you will look gorgeous.

And most of all. . There were ZERO tears. I walked out in the dress and took a deep breath in. It was gorgeous, but not tear evoking. My mom, and my bridesmaids loved it, It complimented my body well, it was wonderful. And then it hit me this was only like the 7th dress I tried on. . this couldn’t be it. It was too easy.

So I walked around, made sure I could go up and down stairs and sit comfortably. I made sure that the train would look good with my shoes an d that I wasn’t going to be worried about my boobs all day. I had the alterations lady come to the bustle for me. And I added a sash for a burst of my colors. And still when everyone else told me it was the one, I was nervous that it was too easy.

So like that I entered the dressing room, removed the dress and the terrible corset of an undergarments that you have to wear with them and stood with my wonderful maid of honor and asked her if it was too easy. She has known me for 10 years and told me that ” You are the most sure of yourself person I know, it wasn’t too easy, this is just you.”

And in that moment, I knew. . this was my dress. So I said yes to the dress just like that, no frills, no tears, no screams. It was my dress and I can’t wait to get married to my best friend in it. It didn’t need to look like a neatly packed 20 minute episode of Say Yes to the Dress to be perfect. It was perfect just for me. .

❤ Kelsi Rae