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Archive for September 6th, 2007

Before those of you readers get really offended and start calling the WordPress head honchos on me, realize that I am black.  Wait, this is what I am typing about.  Read me/hear me out.  Let me try and give you a background on the reasoning for the title of this particular blog.

When I was little, my parents moved my brother and I from Detroit to Ann Arbor, MI; a vast difference in lifestyle, people, and education; education especially.  My father was very concerned that my brother and I would not get the best of educations going through the Detroit school system and so we moved from Detroit to Ann Arbor.  I was raised in Ann Arbor, with 99% white friends and very little knowledge about the hardships in the education system I left behind in Detroit.  Not to offend too many, my father always joked about being so happy that I didn’t have four kids by now and my brother didn’t have about 2-3 women he had impregnated all while working at a some chicken shack.  I could go on, but I won’t. 

Anyways, you pretty much get the idea about my lifestyle change that started for me in the 1st grade.  One day during my younger elementary school years, I waited in a long line for lunch, watching older kids and adults of different races walk by.  I would think to myself, “Great.  When I grow up, I will be white and everything will be fine.”  After sharing that little tidbit with my mother yesterday evening, she remembered me saying these things and we both joked to each other about me really growing up to be white….

I think there seems to be disconnect, a trend that seems to happen when black children are taken out of a black neighborhood; even the same could be said about a white kid moving into a black neighborhood.  I seemed to take on the characteristics of the people and families and media around me at the time, I took on white America (my neighborhood’s) characteristics; it’s what I grew up in and what I knew best.  Do I feel as if I have been shorted, that I miss out on my true African American heritage? No, not by any means.  Any person can learn about the African American experience and be proud of the heritage and struggle and courage that the ancestors had in leaving their home country for a completely unknown one.  The African American experience can more closely be felt by it being shared inside of the family, through generations and experiences.  My experience of being an African American only comes from the stories, the everyday experiences knowing that I am different, and expecting those differences.  The same can be said by any other race and their stories shared by each family member through their generations.

Some of my friends joke about me having a less “black” response to some things because of the environment in which I was raised.  What is a more “black” response?  I dare say that there could be a “ghetto” and even “ignorant” response, however, in all my years learning about African American history, the only response I could give would be one based upon the knowledge of the past and the hope and freedom of the future.  So what, I don’t “speak” like one who would have grown up in Detroit, so what, I don’t dress like some black girls do; that doesn’t keep me from being who I am.

May I be so bold as to say…the name calling stops here.  Call me by my name.  Sure, I may have joked in the past that I am extra toasted on the outside yet still white and doughy on the inside, but through and through, I am an imprint of those that have come before me; all those that struggled through the weight and pain of slavery and the brutal travel across the ocean.  My great great grandmother was an African-Native American slave….I carry the weight of her heritage.  I am proud of who I am, and I don’t need the jokes and comments anymore. 

PEACE.

My Grandmother Addie

My Grandmother – Addie Lanora Thomas

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I guess you can be in love with a voice, because I was in love with his for most of my life.  I was devastated to hear of his passing this morning and was in tears on my way to work today.  I knew that he was sick and he was in pain, however, for some hopeful reason, I really didn’t want him to go.

I watched Luciano perform when he was in Detroit when I was 16.  I had originally heard his voice by listening to my mother’s records of him and his voice and the passion he contained in his voice moved me so.  When I was about 11, I watched the Witches of Eastwick and his voice was featured during a very interesting part of the movie and I was very moved by his version of Nessum Dorma.  Ever since, I have been unable to find a version that even comes close to him.  I wish I could be at his service, I wish I could hear the words that are going to be said about his life, his passion, his talent, and his hopes.  I really miss the voice that warmed my heart and stirred me up to seek out opera in general!  He will be missed.

I only know of one other person that has moved me the way that Luciano did when I first heard him…but I will save that for another blog.

Li manco e li amo, Luciano.

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