Expectation Of The Bigger Person


I have enough nigga left in me to WANT to slap the shit out of the next white person that comes at me sideways. I have barely enough maturity left in me not to do so. It hardly seems fair that I feel pulled to such extremes yet can’t act. I know I didn't fall far from the tree of my roots. I often begin speaking engagements with my disclaimer of being ghetto/country. I was raised hood adjacent by a country momma and my parents didn't raise me to turn the other cheek. Nevertheless, I grew and learned not everything is worth a fight. It still burns me, however, that in verbal abuse situations, society dictates the victim be the bigger person. The bigger person is expected to rise above, walk away, and not engage such behavior. Society will make excuses for the verbal abuser, while telling the abusee it's not worth it. It's not about the value of the situation but the value of the person they miss with such statements.


How would you respond to an old white woman with a walker racing up to your moving car to call you out of your name? At first glance I looked at this woman as a cute little old lady out enjoying her day. I stop to allow her pass and she stops as well. When she doesn‘t move I inch forward. As I get closer that is when she makes her move. Face close enough to my closed window that even if I hadn't heard her voice I could read her lips. I can also see the expression of disdain on her face for a person she knows nothing about. As I continue pass, I watch her small frame grow smaller in my sideview mirror. I think to myself about the audacity and boldness of this old woman who could be easily hurt. Then like shock it hit me.


The rage and anger are building. My mind fills with the platitudes of other white people who know and love me but still don't understand the skin I live in every day. They don't understand that I have to now address situations like this with my daughter who is sitting in the back seat. I suppress the physical manifestation of my anger and hatred towards the frail old woman and remain silent while tears stream down my face hot and salty. I’m crying as I type this because I’m still angry and hurt that I would be approached by a stranger on the street with no provocation. I’m angry because if I had responded in any way, I would be seen as the bad person. I am so tired of being the bigger person.


As the bigger person I have to address my daughter in the back seat and tell her not to judge others by this woman’s behavior. Everything in me wants to release what feels like a volcano in my spirit. Instead I’m expected to be the bigger person. I’ve become accustom to living in a world of hate. I foolishly had high hopes that my daughter would never witness such hate first hand. I hoped it Would keep it’s distance and only enter her world through movies. No, this is not my first rodeo with something like this. Nonetheless, it does not take away the damage done to my soul.


I began writing this on September 23 in my car right after it happened so that I could let go of some of what was building up. It is now October 1 and I'm at my desk. The anger still lives and breathes in me because of the expectation of being the bigger person and feeling I have to take the abuse with no recourse. It is a constant challenge for me not to impress my own racists and bigoted views on my daughter. It sometimes feels impossible to raise her to see beyond the crazy when it is broadcasted across the airways. Now I feel beaten when I try to remain impartial as I explain away the behavior of others to my daughter.


It still runs through my mind what could have happened had I stopped my car, got out and addressed this woman. In a confrontation between a 6'1" black woman and a possibly 5'3" frail white woman with a walker, I know who would be seen as the aggressor.


It's not fair to the bigger person.


P.S. Using the "N-word" instead of the actual word as a mean of explanation is equivalent to spelling CAT in front of a 10-year old.


Phyllis Williams-Strawder is the author of That Damn Girl Stuff: A Mother's Truth and Far From the Tree.

Phyllis is the publisher of SPICE: The Variety of Life written by her husband Neil and Morgan Mischief written by her daughter Morgan.


Phyllis has been writing since she was a teen. Her favorite thing to write back then was poetry. A family friend who was in the music industry wanted to turn one of her poems into a song but she never pursued it. Her debut book, Morgan Mischief, was written with her daughter who was nine years old at the time.


Phyllis is a successful entrepreneur who no focuses on helping teens start business. She holds a degree in finance and is a Certified Life Coach. She is an alum of Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business Executive Program, and Leadership Long Beach Institute. She is a former member of the Long Beach City College Culinary Advisory Board and a certified KCBS BBQ judge.



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