Ramblings of a Mixed Race Black Man

a blog by r.e.bertlow

Ramblings of a mixed-race Black man

r.e. bertlow

Is it just me or could our Government do more to help out the middle-class ?


I’m sitting here this morning feeling a bit dejected by my country. Sure, I’m super happy for the Biden Harris win and the take back of the senate. Though the events of the sixth disgusted me and left me feeling nauseous and concerned for brother Biden and sister Harris safety at the inauguration. It is hard to stay focused yet not because of these things but because I am struggling to survive during this time of pandemic. We are the verge of losing our home because we are in a situation where we are forced to sell or lose it. This house has been my sanctuary for 14 years and I don’t want to sell it. Ironically or maybe not. Once the house sell we will have all this money but because of what we owe we won’t be able to buy a house in an area that would allow us to continue our business.


It feels like we have worked all our lives to achieve being middle class. We get to a point were we finally have something. Whether we get their ourselves or with a spouse or partner, we know we have earned it. That spot in the middle class or upper middle class. The class that still dream of how winning a lottery could changes so many people’s lives beyond our own. Whether you’re a black couple or a mixed-race black couple you can end up feeling like you have reached Jefferson status when you get to that place that is your sanctuary or the place you feel sanctuary at. This is that place for me.


As a mixed-race Black man, I worked hard all my life and I have loved all that I have done. From teaching to owning and running an Inn. I have made friends all along the way and some have become family. Some have helped me claim who I am. They have cheered me and been there for me and I for them as we reached for our Jefferson place in the sky.

It has been difficult and extremely humbling to have to go back to my broke ass twenties but that is where it is at. I know I am far from the only one in this struggle. We had just started our business a few months before the pandemic and were just getting some traction. Because of severity my husband disabilities it limits what he can do, and I have in some senses become a caretaker.  It is interesting to not that when disabilities are mental health disabilities the number of people that don’t get it and feel free to tell you and explain how it is all your fault and what you need to do about it. You try and ignore the noise because you know what’s real. For me that meant trying many new ways of re-inventing our brand. But as with my husband I to have some mental health challenges. My Anxiety and sever depression can be the enemy that stops me in my tracks and many times it does. There  are other times that I push through and yet other times that I do and wonder what the worth was. It seems not only is this time breaking the wallet of the middle-class man of color, but it is also breaking the spirit of the middle-class man of color.

I don’t pretend to have been anything other than a mixed-race Black man raised in a white household. But that as an adult make some black people feel like you don’t know the struggle because your light skinned, and you grew up in a white household. The problem with that thinking is I haven’t lived their struggle so mine isn’t valid. Even though they don’t know mine. I grew up not knowing who my father was and having been rescued at five weeks along with my older brother (who had a white father.) from  mother who was a drug and alcohol addicted individual with sever mental illness who molested my older brother and me. My older brother got the worst of her traits I was spared all but her depression. Literally because of how I was physically born and the pressure it created on my skull cause me to be what is know known as developmentally delayed. Learning as a child was a difficult task. It was very difficult to be in the fifth grade and in the same school with the kids I was growing up with and being a year older than everyone else and then not going on to the sixth grade but back into  a special education class because the fifth grade had been deemed to difficult for me and going into the sixth grade would be to much. I struggled to make it through to three years of college, but I made it through and probably would have made it through if I hadn’t volunteered for project share I think it was. But I did and it led me into more of a life of service and supporting that with a 9-5 job. It got me to Palm Springs. When we arrived here 14 years ago I felt like the only Black man in town. I certainly felt like the only Black man in my neighborhood. I would soon discover one other Black male who was also part of a mixed-race couple, but they soon moved away. I had finally found sanctuary in this home. No, it is crippling my every thought to think about losing this place.

While a great many people have helped us out and I am grateful for that we need sustainability and I believe that that was what we were on our way to building and still can build. But there are days when I want to give up and surrender to the nothingness that is offered up at that moment. Yet I don’t. I don’t because at this point my faith has been stirred but not shaken. Sometimes it feels like the cliff’s edge is coming quick and then a little grace, I don’t go over, a little grace, I’m drawn back a bit from the cliff’s edge. It is like being at the end of a yoyo as it makes its final spins over and over and trying to untie the string just so it will stop even if it all comes crashing down in the opposite direction of what you wanted.

I don’t know anymore how to live as a white man. I don’t yet know how to live fully as a Black man. I never had the experience of having black family to take me under their wing. White was different it prepared you for living while white. My parents were awesome, and I shouldn’t even have to state this obvious fact. My parent could not give me the black experience. I’m learning my culture as I grow into the Black man I am becoming. I will never be able to achieve the salt and pepper braids my Black brothers can achieve and I envy because my hair isn’t coarse enough.

It is difficult this life we lead. It has been said that it is sloppy and messy and that it is. But why does it have to be spirit breaking and crippling? Why when you have lived your live on the good path is that one should be forced because of this pandemic into to ruin. Why has our country turned its blind eye? As an Independent Contractor without a business account, I am not eligible for the payroll protection plan because I didn’t file takes in 2019 or 2018 (We were living of the income of our rental and starting our business after losing my job when I took time off to help take care of my Dying son.) I know I am not the only one struggling. There are other independent workers who struggle to. But I see how other countries are helping their citizens and I wish America could take their lead from countries like Great Britain and other. If during this Pandemic each person who made under 75K annually regardless of whether they filed taxes in the last two years but as long as they have filed taxes got 3K a month the lower middle class, middle class and  middle upper class wouldn’t be killed off Those in poverty would be taken care of as well. Other countries are doing it we can as well. For many people of color and who are poor even if they manage to get a job or retain their job in these times employer have them over a barrel and I would imagine the jobs are pretty near all minimum wage jobs.

I know I am not the only one, but it sure feels like it at times. I’m sure that there are plenty of people who can Identify with what I am saying. I am 60 now and I should be able to feel some sense of comfort not a greater sense of  struggle. I walked my path it wasn’t handed to me. I took the steps I needed to take to try and keep this live safe. But I wasn’t able to and that leads to feelings of failure, sadness and extreme anxiety that become difficult to pull yourself from. The struggle is real right now and I’m in the middle of it. I pray our next stimulus check will come and that somehow we can find a way that allows us to remain in our home. My faith in God is strong. It has been stirred but not shaken. I double down on my service to others as I continue to serve lunches for the Well and we continue to feed pets of the Homeless with the help of the donations of pet food we have received. In fact the fact that we ourself don’t have to sustain this ministry right now has replenished my faith at times when it has been exceedingly low. It is what keeps my faith from being shaken and keeps it stirred. Oh well This outer edge of middle class, middle aged middle child, middle everything will find a way to make it all work. I know what it is like to live on the ledge and though I don’t want to be comfortable with that once again and I thought that I was beyond those days, I guess they are back for now. So I will do my best to do what I need to do to climb out of it and not be the yoyo at the end of the string. I have earned my Jefferson move to my sanctuary and I’ll not let it go easily.


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