sometimes i forget i'm ‘tall’
my parents are ‘tall’
my siblings are ‘tall’
my future children will be ‘tall’
i am ‘tall’.
but, still, sometimes i forget
here are some honest truths:
i lock my car door when 'tall' men walk past; the ‘taller’, the more frightened i become
i get uncomfortable when ’short’ people are the minority in the room
(and in those moments, i'm obsessing over the thoughts they must have. do they think we're going to revolt? hurt them? do they feel safe? should we stop laughing so loudly? how is this current interaction shaping their concept of ’tall' and what can i do in the next three seconds to make it honest?)
i would be really surprised when i had the one ‘tall’ professor; the universal nod showed that we saw each other. are we on the same side now? will my ‘height’ give me an advantage in this class?
i'm ashamed of my full tuition scholarship. it’s easily mistaken as being for ’tall’ people. it doesn't feel as much earned as it does given, and, i mean, what's the point of success if it didn't begin with bootstraps?
i missed opportunities for friendship because i thought sister and brotherhood to be threat toward ’short' folk. and they had become safety, so why would i want to make them uncomfortable?
if someone misspoke on a fact about ’tall’ people, id either say nothing or just enough to be true, but not enough to become that ’tall' girl
when you're the only ’tall' person in a bible class and you're doing a paper on liberation theology, but don't want anyone else to know, so that ‘height' doesn't seem like the only thing you think about
that i don't even realize i'm the only 'tall' person in a room until another ’tall’ person walks in, and i suddenly come out of a subconscious state of mind
i grew up around 'short' people, so, in the realest sense, became 'short'.. even though i was still 'tall'
i've wondered, if I got into an HTCU, Historically ’Tall’ College/ University, for grad school (as I plan), will I befriend ’short' students?
is ‘height’ tied into my identity?
do I even know how to love/be loved by ’tall' people? other than handshakes, head nods and a shared interest in jokes
that i will still catch myself saying 'oh my god I didn't know we did that!' when i see ’tall' people as doctors, and lawyers, and computer engineers and school teachers
that i empathize with the ’short' folks in Oprah's crowds; as long as she entertained me and made me feel safe, she was fine. but as she confronted issues of ‘height' and let them be normal parts of her dialogue, i deemed that she was stuck in the past.
that when i went to a ‘tall' museum in Brazil, and scanned the art section, i became confused when i got to the paintings. and then i started scoffing. 'now why in the world would they have all this van gogh lookin art everywhere? freaking ’short’ people.' and then it hit me: i'd never learned of ’tall' people as painters. every painting and sculpture and poem id just read has been created by ’tall' hands. I was humbled that day.
it's easier for me to become friends with 'short' people
that i was raised with a ‘’short' savior mentality'. i thought, even though i was disconnected and had no real roots in my ’tallness’, my ‘height' would be excuse to trap people into a Jesus that should never be introduced this way
see, reader, the world likes to teach that ‘height’ is real, but that it doesn’t matter.
‘tall’ and ‘short’ people alike, hear me:
‘height’ is not real, but it matters.
it’s tied into the dna of our country, and daily affects the ways in which our children are becoming human.
so stay aware of your biases; it’s not easy, but it’s helping me become a better neighbor
*photo is of author seconds before meeting granddad for the first time, days before his passing. lets not wait till the end of our lives to figure out what it means to be us; who we are and where we come from. who's to say how close your last breath is.
**Though I'm actually six feet tall, if you missed it, this story is about being black and my relationship to race, white people, and America. The fact that I wrote this story in metaphor is apart of the conflict I face within myself; not feeling safe enough in any space to be completely honest. Even my own blog.