Updated: Jun 5, 2020
Remember picking flowers as a kid? Then playing that worrisome game of plucking each petal to see whether or not your crush loves you or not?
I still pick flowers to this day, but not to see how my lover, cutie, or main crush feels about me. I choose to pick flowers because it allows me to recognize my femininity whilst presenting and exuding a sense of masculinity. Flowers have so many meanings that symbolize and evoke the beauty, sadness, and joy of life and death.
Every Monday morning I walk to the neighborhood community garden to pick flowers, something that has become routine for myself whilst working mostly from home. At this community garden, there’s a small public lot that anyone can pick from, that mostly has flowers. The “community” garden is a place where Charlestonians pay fifty dollars a year to own a small plot to garden from. I enjoy reaping and finding flowers at these public lots and the outskirts of the garden; it’s always nice to have fresh flowers on the kitchen table for company that visits, whether it’s for a weekly organizing meeting or an impromptu meal cooked for close friends.
This Monday, was frustratingly different.
As I was picking flowers and creating what I wanted to become a beautiful bouquet, a woman and her children were around working on some plants they were plotting. As I was picking the flowers, I could feel several eyes on me. The following conversation occurred:
Woman: Are you picking from your own plot? Me: Yes, this is a public plot. Woman: … Are you sure? A lot of things coming up missing from several plots around here. Me: Yes, I come here every week to pick flowers from this public lot for my kitchen table vase. I live two blocks away from here. Woman: Oh, well.. I hope it looks nice then.
I promptly finished my bouquet and walked away. I was honestly shocked, not even that she questioned me, but how the question was framed. It was a fact that she did not see me, a Black person, as another community member, as a neighbor. Especially when the garden itself is located in a neighborhood that is predominantly Black. The fact that it was in front of her children, thus shows the the subtly of racism that still exists in the south and will continue to do so as long as white parents navigate in this way.
So, if you are that woman, if you have been that woman, know this. Black people are your neighbors, we live, breathe and love the same ways you do. We have the right to exist in all spaces. Recognize our existence and that we like to pick flowers sometimes. Don’t make us question whether you love us, or not.
This is Southern Harm.