I Do Believe

This is in three parts and will conclude on May 27, 2015

Gran was leaning over the piano looking at a crowd of people locked  hand in hand in a human chain on the black and white TV. I was a little girl but I remember the image and the song that I sang over and over. “I do believe we shall overcome someday”.

 

My family didn’t speak about race relations but they did provide a healthy environment of respect and compassion. They instilled those values in me that I still appreciate  today.

 
I grew up listening to the blues and jazz music of both black and white artist. Jet and Ebony magazines were lying around the house as well as the New Yorker and Life. I was raised to believe we are all created equal. I still believed that but as most of us I had some growing up to do.

 

According to my grandmother, who was born in 1909 and grew up  in Charleston, South Carolina said she didn’t know anything about racism. She said the white kids and black kids all played together. This is the same grandmother who was the youngest of nine children. The oldest Buba John was dark and the ones in between were red bone. Except the second youngest Aunt Annie and Gran who was the darkest of the two. Gran told stories of how terrible her older sisters treated her because of her darker hue. My mother spoke of a college classmate who was so fair she could pass for white. My mother couldn’t understand why she didn’t use her skin color to her advantage.  My mother was dark like my grandmother, both were beautiful women. This didn’t make them racist but it spoke of their own dislike of their own skin color.

mom and gran

Growing up I had  fairest skin. My baby sister was darker than me. I asked my mother why I wasn’t dark like everyone else her answer was my father was white. She said it with such pride that I was disgusted. Yet she told me that his family didn’t want anything to do with us because we were black. That loss  hurt growing up. I always wondered if I had cousins on my father’s side.

 

 

On my original birth certificate my father was listed white. My grandmother told me I was white because the law stated that you are what your father is. I refused to say I was white. I was not white. I was and still am black and proud. Not Afro-American, American yes, human yes but I am the darker complexion with fair color skin. I was  raised in a black community and went to school with mostly black kids. It was natural that I identify with being black. Even though the dark girls disliked me because of my skin color.

 
I was angry and enlightened when I learned about slavery,  segregation in the south and the lynching’s. Over the years I heard of Martin Luther King Jr.Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad and stories of the Black Panthers.  I saw the images on the TV and in magazines and the headlines on the front page of daily papers. Still racism wasn’t talked about in my family. I read the biography of Malcolm X, Soul on Ice, The Soledad Brothers even Iceberg Slim the list goes on.  I wanted to know why white America hated us and at the same time learn about other black people.

 

 

 

I remember the bells ringing and the wailing in the streets when Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. I wanted to change the world and over come not someday but today. In the 1970’s I become pro black but not anti-white. How could I be anti-white? My father was Spanish with white skin.

 
I wanted to learn all I could learn about black people because we weren’t  learning anything in school and apparently despite Black History Month our children today  still aren’t learning much about black history.  On the TV game show Jeopardy’s college week had a Black History category and the students avoided that topic. Only answering three questions.  Maybe if Black History was incorporated in American History we might see some changes. Black kids might develop pride and aspire to be better people. White kids may learn to respect black people as human. We fear what we don’t know. There is a vast history of black people the world doesn’t know about.  Maybe it’s time we start learning.

 

 

That We Will Over Come will continue tomorrow.

Voice your opinion on this I’m sure you have one.  This is an open thread.

12 thoughts on “I Do Believe

  1. Though I’m black I’ve never experienced any form of overt racism as I can remember. Though sometimes I feel it in subtle forms from other bloggers. But then it could be my imagination. Besides I’ve never traveled outside the shores of Ghana to experience this.

    Nevertheless I do appreciate and empathize with victims of racism in any form. I’m desperately black and proud` of it and so you are, my dear 🙂

    Your mum and granny are beautiful women. I see you in your granny. 🙂

  2. So much to say – so little time.
    Overall – people need to relax. If it’s not one thing – it’s another. We are all human – let’s get along people!
    As long as there is no hate or harm – why should we change others or want them to change?

  3. My parents recognized prejudice – they were a different minority. They refused to teach the language of their Mother Country, because in America one should speak English. That was one of the best lessons I was taught see similarities not differences. I never answer the long form of the census. If they keep asking about differences how are we going to be treated equal?

    I’ll have to look into the other parts later in the week. Be well my friend.

  4. When I was growing up, when people found out I was half Native American (just plan Indian back then) I was made fun of. I look like my German father, but inside I was always Indian. I love my heritage, but back then it was something to hide. For years my mother said she was something other than what she was. Racism comes from everywhere and affects everything. I would love it if schools taught not only black history, but Indian history as well. But, I know I”m just dreaming.

    1. That year I had my grandson. He was learning about Native Americans. Well I’ll say we were. Yes there is so much history that should be taught. I know all of it can’t be but enough that we all learn about each other. Thanks for reading Jackie.

  5. I don’t think it will ever end in this world. Whites make fun of other white, as well as everyone else, Asians making fun of those that change their eyes or their hair. Blacks not supporting each other. Someone is always picking at someone else. It’s ridiculous. We are a human family that share this planet and share it with every species imaginable but we don’t seem to get we are all in this together. I was made fun of for years because of my nationality. I keep praying we will one day get it right. Well said.

  6. Kimberly, you essay is dear to my heart.

    We must value who we are in all our shades. This includes our history and our contribtuions.

    We were not provided with an accurate history in schools, especially when they were intergrated. It’s not too late to get informed about it and stay informed. Because it is being revised daily and on the regular.

    I grew up in rural southern MD in a large family of 13. I was one of the darkest in my family, but I was never made to feel less than. We were taught to value our BLACKNESS, without devaluing others.

    My relatives skin colors ran the gamut. My great aunties were just as white as the milk we got from our cows on the farm.

    Being black and recognizing the beauty and gifts we were charged with in this lifetime is a wonderful thing. And even so when we can acknowledge those same gifts in ALL HUMANS, no matter what shades they have their beingness.

    I look forward to part 2. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for reading Ametia. I was in High school in the girls bathroom alone doing having a funny cigarette. This girl came in (who today is an old and dear friend) that was darker than me saying it smelled good. I shared we became friends. I was pro-black and reading as I mentioned and I used to be very verbal. J told me months after we became thick as thieves that I was her first light skin friend and I was the blackest person she knows. When my girls became teenagers I was amazed and pleased that they had a rainbow of shaded friends. Kids from all over the world. It wouldn’t of happened in my day the girls in my NY neighborhood wanted to kick my ass because I was like skin and had “good hair”.

      1. You’re welcome, Kim. Colorism and attempts at white assimilation have done a number on some folks.

        It’s important to share our stories. We are not a monolith. There ae layers upon layers to our lives. Our children, our youth are growing up in an era of vast technology. Expereince is our best teacher. though.

        I do hope they don’t get lost in it and remember to engage with others face-face.

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