At one time in this country, people respected each other; a person’s name was his or her word and worth. Now, in this country, this day and time, and I am referred to as Miss Edna and my spouse is referred to as Mr. Stewart.
I went to a dental appointment and had been going to this particular establishment for years. For some reason lately, I have been referred to as Miss Edna. Let me remind you that I am a published author, a designer, and artist, and a songwriter. Before the appointment, the office was running behind schedule. The dental office called and addressed me twice as Mrs. Stewart. They talked to my spouse over the phone and addressed me as Mrs. Stewart, the second time the dental office spoke to me over the phone and addressed me as Mrs. Stewart. When I arrived at the dental appointment, the receptionist stated: May I help you? I said that I had an appointment and it was pushed back. The receptionist asked for my name. I stated my name as Edna Stewart. She said, “Oh, Miss Edna.” I asked her politely to please do not refer to me as Miss Edna either calls me Edna or Mrs. Stewart. She had to add insult to injury with a snarky remark of, “Yes, madam, yes madam” and with a smile on her face. As I sat down, someone grunted under their breath. Then, I decided I am not taking anyone’s racist bullshit anymore. I walked out. Never was there a word spoken either to address the issue. So, that means I don’t want you here.
This is yet the reminder in this world how some people think that they have the right to decide what your place is in the world and especially if you are of color.
I can remember being in the fifth grade and my teacher Mrs. Sigmund stated to me “You nigger take your sit down.” She was always, always after me because I did not have a mother or a father in my life. So, I was the prime target for all kinds of abuse. She would find anything to paddle me for. I could not wait to get out of fifth grade. When I got to the sixth grade, I entered another form of abuse, verbal abuse. Mrs. McLachlan would always threaten to paddle me. She was the teacher across the way. These teachers would always talk to each other. She would always, always tell me that I couldn’t read, I couldn’t write. I will always, always read below my grade level and I will never be able to go to college so, she state boldly I would just have to get a job. One day while the teacher was going over a history lesson about the civil war, I raised my hands and asked the question, “Where were the first hospitals?” the teacher got smart with me and tried to embarrass me again in front of the class. She told me, “You better find out.” The class laughed and so did she. The students begin to pick at me. My face became flushed. I told another student. “I was just asking the question because I wanted to know.” On the ride home on the bus, I was wondering where were they originally. When I got home, I remember reading the Charlotte Newspaper like my grandfather did, I would read Ask Andy. I always wonder why there were never any black students to win the contest. So, I sat out to write a letter to the Ask Andy Contest, and wrote the question, where were the first hospitals?
One day, when I came home, my grandfather had me to open a letter addressed to me. I opened the letter, read it and handed it to my grandfather. He put on his glasses to read the letter. As he read the letter, he had a big smile on his face. The last time I saw him smile like that was before my mother’s death. I saw that he was proud of me. I was glad that I made him smile after that tragic time. The next week, we went down to the Charlotte News for the interview. My grandfather put on his fedora, his jacket, and a new shirt. He always reminded me of Jimmy Hoffa and the teamster. He was big on that.
We went into the interview. I had never seen the inside of a press room or studio. My hair was fixed up by my grandfather’s girlfriend. I would look over at my grandfather during the interview as I answered the questions. Then, the reporter asked me did I have a pet. I looked at my grandfather and I said, “A dog named King.” The interview was over. We went home. I felt good because I made my grandfather smile again. By the end of the week, on Sunday, the interview was in the paper. I finally felt good because I was in the paper for something good. It was a relaxing time to not hear about my mother death and my father’s incarceration. On Monday, at the bus stop, everyone seems to take notice and said that they didn’t know that I was smart. These were all the kids who would call me the fat pig, four eye fat pig, and pull my hair. The bus pulled up, even the bus driver noticed me for the first time. When I arrived at school, that teacher was not at the door. Normally, she would be at the door and make snide remarks to me as I entered it. When she asked the class to take their seats, she looked directly at me and said, “We have a celebrity in the classroom.” She tried to embarrass me by asking me to talk. That was the first time, I spoke up for myself. Students whispered that I was smart. After that, the teacher left me alone. Early on, that is when I sat out to write. That’s when I knew I could do something with my life. That article is now archived.
Over the years, most whites would address me as Mrs. Stewart, especially in Ayden, North Carolina. I was always addressed by people in that town as Mrs. Stewart or Edna. But lately, most whites that I have met in this area address me as Miss Edna even though I am married. I experienced these mainly in churches where the spouse was acknowledged as Mr. Stewart while I was addressed as Miss Edna. Even in social functions, it was the same way. In one social function, a woman pulled out a brazilin nut from a can and boldly stated, “We use to call these nigger toes.” When I wrote Carpe Diem, I wrote about a biracial woman who made it as an author, living in the south who finds true love with a white male from New York. Its main focus is about finding love in the most unusual places and with the one to fall in love with.
I was interviewed by the Jacksonville Daily News. When the article broke that Sunday, a lot of people were surprised. I was working at Curves Gym as a personal trainer and Zumba instructor at that time in Swansboro. When I came into work, the owner put the article on the bulletin board. Most of the women could not believe it. Then, someone came in and placed a Nicholas Sparks book on my athletic bag. One woman told me blatantly that, “You’re no Nicholas Sparks!” I did not answer back.
Then, the knives come out to tear me apart. Some of these women talked about how white authors and writers were better than people of color because they write well and can understand English. A book club was formed by one of the women. I attended that book club. All that the leader of the club would do was pick books out to discourage me. She would try to pick out places for lunch that she assumed that were expensive and thinking that I could not afford them. She and some of the women would tell me about the food on the menu. May I remind you, I have cooked just about everything from simple foods to a soufflé to escargot. Every time I paid for my meal, some of the women glanced over to look at my wallet. Later, I found out that the leader would go on Amazon and read others review on books, then states that she read the book. However, I always, always read all my books from cover to cover. All in all, at this place too, I was addressed as “Miss Edna and the spouse addressed as Mr. Stewart or Mike.”
Now we are creating the canvas for someone of color to live in our world.
The past year, a man came on my property one afternoon. A vehicle pulled into my driveway and sat there. I went out to see what was wrong. A man pulls up with a young woman riding on a golf card. I told them that I have a business here and you can’t block the driveway. The man on the cart immediately yells, “You nigger, You cunt!” The young woman begins to yell, The man in the white vehicle had slipped out and given a dog to the man yelling. He got back in his vehicle and said nothing. The man yelled state out his address. He tells me that I know who he is and dared me. Later, I recalled that he was the man who pulled his truck in front of me as I was riding my bike down from where I lived. He called me the same thing, “You nigger, You cunt!” He crossed in front as though run me over, and then pulled the truck up where he could reach me. I bluntly told him that, “He had 3 seconds.” The man sat and thought about it, then sped off down the highway flipping the bird.
A Person at the store on the highway where I live, kept addressing me as, “Miss Edna,” but addresses the spouse as “Mike.” I asked him politely not to address me in that manner. He stated that “It was respect.” He refused to address me as either, “Edna or Mrs. Stewart.”
I told my spouse and asked him to please speak with him about the issue. After the spouse spoke with him about the issue, when I entered the store one day, he blatantly told me that he’s refusing to address me in that manner, and I blatantly told him that I don’t care if you wash windows or clean floors, I will address you by your last name or first name.” I will not demote someone else’s dignity. Then, He told me that, “You have to give me a reason to not get respect from me.”
It seems to me that when you are told that you have to give a reason to not get respect from another that means I’m trying to tell you what your place is in the world because of the color of your skin. This is a type of racism in this country. If you are of color and speak up about an issue, you are immediately deemed as a black who is trouble, has an attitude or you don’t make your own money, you just live off of your spouse, and you do not count as a human being.
I was told many times that “I represented my husband?” As I recalled, I was an individual when I met my spouse, my career neither is mine nor is his career is mine. I did not sign up to serve this country, he did, I just happen to be a dependant that can use some of the facilities of the government. I am my own person, an individual who happens to be in a contract, a partnership, in a union to raise a family with love and respect of each other in a relationship treated with dignity as a human being, and my sexuality is none of your damn business.
Once in this country, call 911 and make up a story that is not true, you can slap a black woman in the face, tell her to come and be her maid, or you could just rape and cut a black woman, pure debauchery. It seems to hold true to this day. It is always the threat of a dog that chases you on your bike from out of nowhere, called you trashy bitch, you black nigger, nigger, cunt, or step on your property and show you racial slurs and swastikas, etc. etc. It is always the reminder in this country, no matter what you do, because of the color of your skin, that you are not as equal as I am.
Here we are again this day and time addressed as You nigger, You cunt!, and Miss Edna. It seems to me that it does not matter in this country that because of the color of your skin, someone always, always has to remind you of your place. May I remind you, my place is to be true to myself, a published author, a designer, an artist, a songwriter, a mother, a spouse? If I’m referred to as “Miss Edna,” and not regards to my name or titles held, then are you the society telling me that I am a NOBODY in life? If I speak up to an injustice or an issue, then you tell me that I will lose my job, never solicit your business or rally around to put the nigger it its place- a public shaming in closed groups or open groups?
People who have treated other with respect and dignity know the value of themselves and others in their life. Those who state and show how they treat others with a hate and disrespect because of the color of their skin have truly lost in life. They have no drive to ever change themselves or the world we live in. They push hate because they truly hate themselves and are too lazy to change it. They hate others who dare to dream and make things a reality what is suited for them by hard work because it reminds them of who they should be or how to live life. It’s like this if you want to lose weight you know you have to change your habits and your lifestyle.
Here’s a question, if you consider me as “Miss Edna,” then how much have you’ve done in your lifetime? Try to walk in my shoes for a day, I’ll bet you won’t last even for a few seconds of breath. If one ever thought I sit in my house and do nothing…Well, think again.
Author Edna Stewart