Or maybe it’s more like “We’re here. We have value. Don’t tread on us.” So many people like to pat themselves on the back and say, “Martin Luther King fought hard and accomplished so much, so now black people are equal.” If white people are afraid the police are going to catch them it’s because … Continue reading Being Black in America
“The now-cool-for-black-people list: skateboarding, listening to rock music, wearing clothes that fit, being the token black guy.” ~Anonymous I went to a Dave Matthews Band concert once. It seems like ages ago now. It was back in the time when I was hyper aware of race (when am I not?) and I kept looking around … Continue reading The “New Black”
Light-skinned hues Such masquerading Multi-faceted lies And straightened hair Slaves to a culture They should despise This dark slides light Leaving shadows Such soul depressions In filthy lines Waiting for change A tacit acceptance The status quo Shifting in sand Bleached out and drying These solid ghosts Trying to blend in While the world shifts … Continue reading Passing
As a parent I want to protect my children from anything and everything that could hurt them, but realistically that’s not possible. The best I can do is prepare them as well as I can for dealing with and overcoming those issues as they come up. Of course some of the biggest issues that could hurt them come from factors they have absolutely no control over, a fact that hurts even more because, even though I wouldn’t want them to change to fit someone else’s standard, at least it is a flexible thing. When someone hurts either of my children, for whatever reason, though, I am like a papa bear who wants to rip down the entire forest to get justice.
I knew from a young age that if I ever brought children into the world they would be judged, not merely on their mental capacity, or on their empathetic scale, or even on the style of dress they fancied, but also on the color of their skin. Even when I grew older and married a woman who just happened to be white, I knew that skin color would still be an issue, because our children would never be “just” white, so they would be different, especially around here. Yes, we’ve made some great gains in race relations and issues surrounding the tension therein, but prejudice still abounds, even if it is done more subtly now than ever before.
In the class photos you can see the differences, in the abundance of curly, kinky hair, in the fullness of the lips, in the curve of the nose. These characteristics she inherited from me, and I’m proud of that, that I can see some of myself, and of my heritage, in her, even just physically. She gets so much from her mother too, but the one thing that stands out most, especially when looking at the class photos, is her skin color. There is a bit of a Mariah Carey light mocha coloring she has that is so beautiful to me, but I know when others see it they have their own ideas. I will honestly never know why, but some people can’t stand what they don’t understand.
When we are out and about without my wife, it’s interesting to see how differently people treat us, and how they treat me in particular. We are a black family when I am with my children on my own. It’s plain to see when older black women smile at the kids, as if they were their own grandchildren, or when we pass older white couples who look at us like we’re a completely new species. These same older black women, and these same older white couples, treat us differently when we are all together. In fact, they tend to ignore us and go about their business. They don’t “get” us. They can’t wrap their brains around an interracial couple, a mixed race family, even now, in this day and age.
The first time I heard someone use the ‘N’ word I was probably about 8 years old and it was on my block, a place comprised of all black folk, and the term was meant to be endearing. Continue reading “The ‘N’ Word”
When I was 16, I went to work for the Philadelphia Vision Center. My primary job was going throughout the neighborhood, putting flyers on people’s porches, in their screen doors, in their mailboxes (against the law), and in their hands. For this service, I was paid $5 an hour under the table, a rather handsome … Continue reading The Year I Was Santa