I’m a redneck woman, I ain’t no high class broad.

I’m just a product of my raisin’, I say hey y’all and yee-haw.

And I keep my Christmas lights on on my front porch all year long, and I know all the words to every Tanya Tucker song. 

So here’s to all my sisters out there keeping it country. Let me get a big “hell yeah” from the redneck girls like me! 

Hell yeah!

In 4th grade gym class, we learned how to dosey doe and promenade to the Cotton Eye Joe.

I don’t really remember what that means, but I remember that a whole lotta people were hella excited about it, and we got to wear cowboy boots!

I owned a couple pair back in the day.

In grade school, I had some that were more traditional– a faded, rustic-looking pair that were weathered and leather and deep, struggle brown.

In high school, I went all out. I bought a knee-length, zebra print pair made of spandex and vinyl.

And I’ve owned a couple cowboy hats in my day. But mostly just for costume parties and kicks and giggles.

I. WAS. STYLISH.

now

I like the subtle, poppy twang of Melissa Etheridge, Shania Twain, and Taylor Swift. But I grew up on Brooks and Dunn, Alabama, and The Judds.

In high school, when I decided to slowly wean myself away, I dabbled with a little Garth Brooks and Martina McBride.

She’s still one of my favorites.

And I drink sweet tea sometimes, but not a lot, because you gotta watch the ‘betes.

Aside from these things, there’s very little about me that screams “Texas.”

When I moved to Chicago, it was important to be from someplace else.

Not because of Chicago, but because, for the first time, I was a representative on behalf of my people. I represented Texans.

I felt the need to defend it. To claim it. To speak on its behalf.

It was my hometown.

You should talk to your children about race.

I’m not 100% sure how you should do it, or when you should do it, but you should.

I was scared to go to Rice.

It was predominately white and, I’d heard, elitist and racist.

I did my best to fit in which, at the time, wasn’t very much.

I was a fish out of water.

You should talk to your children about race.

You should talk to them whether you’re in the majority or a minority culture.
You should talk to them whether you live in a heterogeneous or homogeneous place.
You should talk to your children about race.

You should talk to them so they don’t yell “monkey!” out of their car window when they see someone black like me– as someone did me.

And so they don’t call the police on me when I’m studying at the library, like they did when I was in middle school.

And so they don’t call the police on me when I’m downstairs waiting for my pizza, like they did when I was in college.

And so they don’t spit at my feet and say they’ll burn crosses on my lawn, as they did when I was on my way to church one Chicago Sunday. 

You should talk to your children about race.

My best friend and I attended undergrad together unexpectedly.

She’s from Nigeria originally, but she’s lived in Bolivia, Atlanta, Belize, South Dakota, and here.

She’s fluent in Igbo, English, and Spanish. She’s studied a little Portuguese and French too.

She’s earned a B.S. (or two) an M.P.H. and an M.D.

Sometimes her patients call her “Nigger” or “that Nigger doctor.”

You should talk to your children about race.

You should talk to them so they don’t beat me with a baton because they think I stole a tomato (I didn’t).

Or so you don’t arrest me for unlocking the door to my house.

Or while I’m moving into my apartment.

Or for sitting on my front porch.

Or for using Airbnb.

You should talk to your children about race.

At Rice we were the owls, but U.T. was one of our greatest rivals.

For homecoming one year we decided to wear matching t-shirts to the big game: Tuck Fexas.

We even used their school colors.

I laughed.

But I never got one.

I didn’t want to be offensive.

You should talk to your children about race.

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