• Tyffany Howard

Not black or white enough

Imagine going through life carrying baggage that didn’t make sense and was always right there with you. The baggage to which I’m referring is ‘not being black or white enough.’ I couldn’t return this baggage for a refund because I can’t change my skin color. Before, I share the experiences that this baggage attracted, I will share the lessons that I have learned. I learned that my skin color didn’t prevent me from accomplishing all the goals. My skin color didn’t halt my forward progress. Most of all, I learned that Spirit has a plan for my life and because Spirit is the Source of all things, human’s treatment of me because of my skin color, could never crush Spirit’s blessings. And more importantly, I’m source energy and what’s in my vortex is already mine. Know that any person, system, or group that separates humans based on skin color lives in a space of fear. Fear is not love. The illusion of color produces psychological harm, a split mind and feelings of unlove to all who lull in that energy. That is, no one is exempt from the harm. This harm plagues our society and here is my account of how it plagued my life.

My first memory of feeling some kind of difference was when I was in the first grade. I attended Blackshear Elementary (“Blackshear”) in Austin, Texas. I attended that school because from what I was told, the Austin City Council forced the school that I previously attended to close. That school was operated by black Muslims. I loved that school. We were taught to be proud of who we are and encouraged to be brilliant. After our school was forced to close, I had to go to a traditional public school.

Blackshear was in the heart of the black community on the Eastside where blacks in Austin were mandated to live. That’s another story that’s been told by others so I won’t revisit it. Anyway, I remember having to take a test to determine my grade level. I already knew that I would be in the second grade, but after that test, I was placed in the first grade. I never understood why because I always knew that I was intelligent. My mama told me that when I was 3 years old my dad enrolled me in a private Methodist school because I was so smart. As a child, you don’t know about prejudice or racism. You just know that the way you’re being treated doesn’t feel good. I never trusted those people at that school. I was a black girl coming from a Muslim school with high regard for myself and that is a recipe for somebody to be triggered by their feelings of lack of love.

I love, love, and love learning! Being book smart was one of my personal identities. I later learned that the ability to collect data and regurgitate it is not real intelligence. I digress. Let’s get back to the story. I would always raise my hand to provide the answers during class until that one day when my first grade teacher planted a seed that would birth reservation in me. That reservation, fear, feeling of inadequacy and not being enough left me wounded throughout high school, college and graduate school. What happened? I raised my hand to answer a question and my teacher said in a nasty irritated voice, “Tyffany stop raising your hand. You can’t answer every question.” After that, I never raised my hand again. For years, I was more than angry at the Austin Independent School District. That experience in the first grade was the beginning of the indoctrination of not being white enough. Also, I began to become suspicious of people in positions of authority. However, that experience didn’t keep me down.

As a child, I always knew that I was connected to Spirit. In my teens, I believed that I was Jesus. No lie! My mama told me that at 4, I was wise and advising her “that there was no need to cry and that everything would be okay” after my dad left. I had always wanted to be of service to humankind. And, I have always known that what is in you is in you and no one could take that away. I made it through elementary school and then moved on to Pearce Jr. High School, also in Austin. Again, I was so excited about learning. A kind and amazing teacher, who has transitioned, Ms. Ford, saw my light. She was my honors English teacher and based on her choosing she was in a white body in this lifetime. I was in her regular English class unto she had me transferred into her honors class. That was the beginning of me being on that high flying disc that Abraham-Hicks talks about.

Ms. Ford feed my thirst for knowledge and that caused problems for me with the black kids.

Today bullying is so sensationalized in the media that it leads one to believe that it’s a new phenomenon. Bullying is how I learned that I wasn’t black enough. E. Davis, a beautiful black girl who had failed a number of times, was in my 7th grade math class. She was always beating up other girls and I was terrified of her. She introduced me to the term “white girl.” Yep, she called me white girl after she threatened to beat me up if I didn’t do her math homework for her. And when I told our math teacher, Ms. Brown, who happened to choose a black body to walk around in, she told me, “then I guess you better do her homework.” So first grade, I learned that I wasn’t white enough and in 7th grade, I learned that I wasn’t black enough. And the psychological trauma of color didn’t end.

By the 8th grade, I was dating boys and the first boy I fell in love with was E. Birchfield, a white boy. He was so sweet, smart and handsome. But, my 8th grade honors science teacher, Ms. Stephens, wouldn’t have it. One day after class, Ms. Stephens asked my friend, R. Bailey, and I to stay so that she could talk to us. R. Bailey was also black and Ms. Stephens thought that it was her responsibility to tell us that we shouldn’t be dating white boys. I was confused to say the least and humored by her concern.

Throughout high school, I was bullied and tortured by black girls. My name wasn’t Tyffany; it was “white girl” or “oreo.” My younger sister had to protect me a number of times from black girls who wanted to beat me up. Honestly, I believed black girls hated me and I spent most of my life grappling with that subconscious belief until a shift earlier this year. That’s another blog post. I couldn’t shake the color identity trauma from my psyche.

In college at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles (“USC”), I experienced both not being black or white enough. In my freshman year, some girl from Sacramento, CA asked me if I knew how to do the hambone. I didn’t know what the hell she was talking about until she demonstrated it for me. That was crazy!

Humans want to fit in and I wasn’t any different so I decided to rush a sorority. If you went to college then you know to what I’m referring. For me, it was natural to rush white sororities because I was more comfortable around white people. I had spent all of high school in honors classes with white people and most of my friends were white and my 3 black girl friends were deemed white girls too. So naturally, I would rush a white sorority. What a lesson to learn!

Not only was I not white enough, I wasn’t rich enough either. I didn’t have the right pedigree and I didn’t know it at the time. Haha! When rush was over, I ended up getting a bid from the so-called reject sorority. You know the one for the girls of color, the poor girls, the weird and brainy girls, and the overweight girls---the rejects. Well, my ego decided that I was too good for the reject sorority so I decided to rush a black sorority. It was too late. The word was already out about me. I remember working behind the front desk at Flour Tower and a Delta Sigma Theta (black sorority girl) walked up to me and told me not to even think about rushing Delta because the word was out that I think I’m white. What the hell did that mean? I recall walking around campus near Tommy Trojan when I saw a group of Delta Sigma Thetas that I recognized. They gave me attitude and looks of disgust. Again, I was not black enough. That was the end of my great idea to rush a sorority.

Later in my college career, I rushed a professional law fraternity and was welcomed. You would have thought by now, I had learned enough black-white lessons for a lifetime, but no. Graduate school at the University of San Diego in San Diego, CA (“USD”) was the turning point of my blackness. I will never forget the conversation that changed what “being black” meant to me. I was the graduate assistant and later an assistant director for the Educational Opportunity Program at USD. I worked with a brilliant, strong, and proud black man. He is from Alabama and proud of his heritage and aware of the miseducation of the negro. My time learning about race consciousness was invaluable at that time in my life.

I felt so proud about being black and representing my people in a positive way. I was the only African-American in the International Relations graduate program. I may have been the only African-American to graduate from that program. I don’t know and I don’t care because it is unimportant. I share those thoughts because they help explain the source of my pride and also, are perfect examples for the makings of a false personal identity. Anyway, I thought I was this brilliant sister representing my people with dignity and grace until a friend says to me, “if you are so down with being black then why do you have white women’s hair.” This person is not black or white; he’s half Palestinian and Costa Rican. His question made me question my blackness and therefore, more evidence that I wasn’t black enough. If I weren’t black enough, what would do it? I was stumped but not for long. For me, he was a messenger. After that conversation, I became Ms. Black Power…so I thought.

With more black-white lessons to come, what better environment than in law school? I headed to William Mitchell College of Law (“William Mitchell”) in St. Paul, MN thinking that I was now black enough. Come to find out, I didn’t even come close to being black or white enough. Go figure! My friend enlightened me about the white hair so as soon as I arrived in St. Paul and 2 days before 1L (1st year law) Orientation, I had my head shaved. So I go to law school looking like Sinead O’Conner in cowgirl boots. It was so much fun seeing the expressions on people’s faces. That first year of law school, I was swimming in the vortex and it created some laughable experiences for me.

For example, the President of the Black Law Students Association had the audacity to tell me, “we had a meeting and decided that someone should tell you that you need to grow your hair.” What the hell! What meeting and why wasn’t I invited. Now, I’m too black for the black people who are too black to be white. Haha! That is when I got labeled a rebel. By law school, I had such a tough skin and wasn’t afraid of little people. Why? All the experiences up to that point had birth a certain kind of insanity---a, don’t fuck with me insanity. I had been expanding intellectually and consciously. Consciously, I knew that I was greater than my skin color and hair even though subconsciously, I was doing battle with the truth. Either way, I was unstoppable. Oprah said, “when your personality matches your purpose, you are unstoppable.” I was in my element and I knew that I was great. I had survived so much and I was still standing and thriving.

And then I had to deal with all the lies about affirmative action. The propaganda that blacks don’t want to learn, that blacks are intellectually inferior to whites and that black students take seats from deserving and smarter white kids. So when a white male student came up to me and asked “how did you get in here and what was your LSAT score,” I had to laugh. I wonder whether he asked other white students those same questions. He assumed that I got in because William Mitchell needed to fill a quota. Spirit doesn’t know anything about quotas and affirmative action. I ended my first year at William Mitchell ranked 25 of 115 students in my section and that had nothing to do with my supposed inferior intellect. I share that information not to boast but to make a point. Again, I was just not white enough.

People you do your kids a disservice when you fill their heads will inferior-superior crap. They will go out into the world and find out that it is all a lie. The beautiful thing is that our Creator is the source and substance of our supply. Therefore, no person, place or condition controls our lot in life. We are the co-creators of our life. I would like to tell you that it changed for me after law school, but it didn’t. The reason is that the residue of that low vibration from my first grade experience was still in my vibration. Yes, some people are cruel and also, I attracted those experiences to me by my thoughts. The psychological harm that I mentioned at the being of this blog is real. Separating people based on race, color, ethnicity, etc., can cause a lifetime of harm and the wound is challenging to heal.

I remember being asked to visit an acquaintance, my mother’s former employer, at his home in Bee Caves, a suburb of Austin, TX. This wealthy and seemingly intelligent man and I are both alums of the University of Houston Law Center. He had the audacity to ask me whether I picked cotton to pay for law school. What a silly little man! Every now and then, I get the opportunity to test whether I have cleared out that old vibration. That experience was one of those times, and Austin is a perfect place for being tested. Austin seems so liberal on the outside, but it is riddled with so much racial tension and segregation.

Even as a licensed attorney, I faced the realities of not being black or white enough. After practicing law for 13+ years and running for judge in a small conservative town, the psychological trauma continued. I wasn’t white enough for some black clients who wouldn’t retain me or get all upset because the judge appointed me to represent them because they believed a white lawyer was better. Then, the judges, primarily male, who grew up in an era where black people were not supposed to be lawyers, would treat me like a ‘black gal.’ I was blessed that I wasn’t a black male lawyer. They are treated horribly, especially if they have a strong personality. I am so grateful that I am petite, easy on the eyes, have a likeable personality and handled my business professionally. And, I had enough awareness to know when to be docile. But, that wasn’t enough.

Two experiences stand out for me. I was appointed to represent this white guy. He said, “I heard that you are a good lawyer, but I’m going to hire a white man.” I smiled and giggled a little bit because the honesty was so refreshing. Then he said, “This is Bell County and I will get a better deal with a white man who is in good with the judges. I couldn’t argue with him; he was spot on. So I gave him a referral and thanked him for his honesty.

The other experience was also honest and humorous. I was stopped in the courthouse by an older white male attorney whom I respected. He wanted me to run for judge again and told me that he could get me elected because he knew the power brokers in the county. He said these men decided the elections and not the voters. As nicely as he could put it, he told me that there was only one problem that we had to get past—my color. That was hilarious!

Thanks to Archangel Michael’s guidance, I left the practice of law and accepted my calling as a healer and spiritual teacher. For some reason, I thought that it would be different in the new thought community. I remember going to Hay House’s I Can Do It Conference in Austin a couple of years ago and wondered, “Where are the African-American authors/spiritual teachers?” One wealth conscious teacher, Joe Vatale, mentioned racial discrimination and that’s it. The following year, 2014, I went to the I Can Do It Conference in Austin as a published author. A division of Hay House, Balboa Press, published my first book, tap that! And again, there were no African-American authors/spiritual teachers. I know what some of you are thinking. You are thinking that’s me and my vibration. To that, I say, “it is me and you too. That’s the point of the blog. The purpose is to point out that in the United States there exist an unhealthy psychological sensitivity to the illusion of color that has run amok. It is so deep in my vibration, and if you are honest with yourself, you know that it is in yours. I’ve been working to release that low vibration from my energy body. How about you?

For me, it is mindboggling how Americans can go all over the world to point fingers at other countries for their acts against humanity, especially ethnic cleansing (racial genocide) and ignore what goes on in our own back yard. The new age moment, consciousness movement or whatever pointer that you use to describe the business of mind, body and spirit, teaches humanity how to heal their money matters, relationship issues, resolve their self-love challenges, death trauma, fear challenges, physical issues, and personal identity problems so why not the race-color trauma. Most of all, the mind, body and spirit community teaches that we are all ONE. Since no one has stepped forward to discuss the politics and illusion of color, I was guided to address it.

I understand that the illusion of race and the treatment of people of color as a result of that illusion is a difficult topic to tackle. The spiritual community can’t see or is ignoring the collective subconscious fear of the race issue. Even in the religious community, I have yet to see clergy from all faiths ban together to heal this sickness in our country. It has been said many times and it’s true, “Sunday is the most segregated day of the week.” I share with my clients that if they can’t let go of something unhealthy that keeps them stuck, it is because there is a benefit to hanging on to it. With that, I ask this question, is there a benefit to our continued outward separation? In the new thought community, we know that our external world is a reflection of our internal vibration.

Our country is swimming in racial tension. Why? The politics of color is false. At this time of our conscious development, anything that is false will come to the surface and be dismantled. If you ask any child, whether I am ‘black,’ he or she will tell you, “no.” There are no black, white, brown, yellow or red people. Our egoic mind created divisions based on color because we need to feel love and worthy, valuable and enough. The intellectual mind falsely believes that it is enough when it’s seen as better than someone else. This false belief is so embedded in the collective psyche of the western world. And yes, I know that race-color talk is not profitable. Maybe there’s the fear that if you point out the illusion of race, you may lose some of your followers. We all know that fear is not real. I don’t know the reasons why we ignore that this challenge on our planet. I’m shining light on a sensitive issue so that we can come up with some loving ideas to heal.

If you are reading this blog, please know that color is an illusion, a personal identity, and is has been created and fueled to keep us divided by those who benefit from the racial tensions. Our Creator whispered us all into creation and we chose these different forms. And we have been in different bodies in different lifetimes. I’m connected to you as much as you are connected to me and the trees, animals and Source. I just had a thought…haha! Bob Marley, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and John Lennon were great teachers of ONENESS. Maybe, subconsciously, we really don’t believe that we are ONE.

There are no coincidences. I chose this body, attracted the experiences that I have shared, chose to accept Archangel Michael’s guidance that my life’s purpose involves healing, for this moment. My color story plagued me most of my life and I know now that my color doesn’t define me and is not who I am. Those experiences created a vibration that resonated so deeply in me that I attracted so much suffering in my life trying to be black enough and white enough. Today, I am happy to remind you that being black or white is an illusion. I chose to come into physical form in this body for a reason. The fulfillment of my life’s purpose required me to look just as I am and go through all the colorful experiences that I went through to this point in my life. How have I learned to handle the vibration of feeling ‘not black or white enough?’ I’ve been triggered enough to know what that energy feels like. So when I recognize the energy rising up in me, I tap, breathe and question the thoughts in my head. EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Tapping, breathwork and re-engineering my brain by questioning the truth of my thoughts are tools that have helped me greatly. As I let go of the illusions in my life one by one, I can say that I’m neither black nor white enough. Rumi quotes, “I am not this hair, I am not this skin. I am the soul that lives within.” And that my friends, is ENOUGH!

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