So all last week, I was having a Rosa Parks-Madame CJ Walker-we-shall-over-come moment. You know –the moment when you feel like you’re breaking new ground for women of color everywhere. And this moment came when I least expected it.
My husband attended a conference in south Florida. Since my daughter was on fall break and I work for myself part-time, I thought this would be an excellent time for the whole family to get away. I was excited to stay at the swanky hotel where the conference was located. It’s famous for its service and has hosted many celebrities. And believe me, the hotel did not disappoint. From the moment we drove up I could see that it definitely deserved its 5-star rating.
As the concierge pointed out the spa, luxurious pool, and many restaurants, I smiled to myself. “Yes!” I thought. “This is exactly the pampering that I’ve been needing in my life!” But it only took a few hours for my self-satisfied grin to start fading. I noticed that something seemed to be missing. Or should I say someone was missing – several someones actually. There were very few brown people anywhere in the hotel. Except for a handful of men attending the conference, and several hotel employees, there was not a brown person in sight. In fact, during my 4 day stay I only saw two other black female guests at the hotel. Was it possible that I was an unintentional groundbreaker?
Now being the fly in the buttermilk has never bothered me at all. I mean, it comes with the territory of being a minority in America. But feeling like an unwanted fly in the buttermilk would unnerve anyone. While my husband spent his days in conference sessions, my daughter and I enjoyed the hotel’s amenities. But I couldn’t help but notice the gawks and questioning glances that we’d get from time to time from hotel employees and more than a few guests.
Amazingly the hotel employees, most of whom were brown themselves, seemed more confused by my presence than anyone. I thought that I was just being paranoid until one of the Afro-Caribbean hotel staff members stopped me to asked me where the human resources office was located! “Really?” I wondered to myself. “What about my cute resort wear is screaming ‘hotel employee?’ “Don’t get me wrong. I still had a fabulous time relaxing in the sun and enjoying 4 days of pampering. But I couldn’t help but feel that there are still some places in America that don’t welcome brown faces – even in 2012. I know that my pampered experience was tame compared to what many groundbreaking sisters of the past have had to endure. But it still came as a surprise.
Mommies, do you feel that there are still places in America that are perceived as off limits to brown mommies?
Words By: Yolanda Darville