The Rumor Mill


Some may remember Paul Simon’s hit song,  “50 Ways to Leave your Lover,” from the 70’s.  Well here is a list of ways to attempt to diminish a black woman in modern times, even during the stresses of  Covid.

First, you circulate a rumor and say that she is really a man, though you had not heard that one.  Until, the children that you are trying to teach how to count and read ask you if it’s true?  “Are you really a man?”  You think or you don’t think.  You just try to get through the day before you let that one seep in too deeply.  Whew!

Then while in the schools, with breaks being few and far between, your co-workers have a coordinated effort in place to block all toilets before you reach the door.  Perhaps they have also heard the rumor.  If you are lucky enough to get inside the washroom, there is an incessant, earth-shattering bamming on the door as if the Walls of Jericho are falling down.

If you still are not shaking with rage or seething, how about circulating the rumor that you are a prostitute. When you take a walk or go to the athletic club, old, crinkled, wrinkled men walk up to you grinning as if they are about to make a “pick-up.”  How offensive!

Still surviving and thriving?  How about the neighbors overhead stomp throughout the apartment for hours as they go from room to room over the past years?  If you complain, there is a dismissive tone because another rumor says that you are bi-polar.  Hadn’t heard that one either! But with that one being placed on your head, nothing you say really matters. It’s like , “Ugh-huh; ugh-huh.”

Headache, yet?  Well, lastly, when you run your bath water or turn on the shower, the woman upstairs’ non-working, live-in boyfriend, who is on the property illegally, hears you.  Oops!  He immediately rushes to the bathroom and starts his shower as if you are showering with him.  A vicarious thrill to him, you suppose.  But a most sickening thought indeed.

If this exhausts you, then imagine what it is like living it day in and day out; hour after hour.  All of these well-orchestrated attempts to degrade someone that they do not know. But you whisper like Maya Angelou, “And still I rise,” and you vow, this too shall pass.

Lynn M.
June 1, 2021

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