December 8, 2012
Who Is Black In America
THIS is one conversation I want to hear.
Growing up I really did not have the luxury of identifying as anything other than black.
My biracial father grew up poor on Chicago's South Side in "Bronzeville". He is as militant as they come. Live in The Community. Buy in The Community. Die in the Community.
I am the product of a biracial father and what is known in New Orleans as a quadroon on my mother's end. Essentially, both of my great-grandparents, maternal and paternal, were biracial as well.
My father's father was Filipino and his mother a Creole whose people were free blacks from Missouri. My mother's mom was a Louisiana Creole whose father was biracial French and black. My Gran's mother was raised in New Orleans French Quarter but was actually a biracial black and Italian born in Mississippi. My mother's father had mixed ancestry from Kentucky, I believe. I say I am Creole because it is the majority of my genetic makeup. To top that off, it is the only culture that I know.
In many arenas being Creole is simply a variation of being black. Because I was not raised in NOLA but the South Side of Chicago, being a South Side black person is my identity.
It is interesting that after centuries of discussions, we are finally getting to the core of blackness via Soledad O'Brien's series Black In America.
At this stage in my game, at 45 years old, I don't really buy into all of the compartmentalized rigmarole surrounding blackness. "Negro" is etched on my birth certificate. Because of that label, it defines who I am, in essence, and I'm okay with that. Being a black single mother in America means I am far too busy being vocal about racism and keeping my 'moving target' sons alive. When you know that your own people are the greatest threat to your existence, as well as society, but only in a secondary fashion, definitions become quite meaningless.
I am in deep survival mode here in Chicago out of my desire to remain the mother of living sons. I want my sons to live and live well. Not slain because they are breathing. Not slain because they brushed your arm, stepped on your toe or walked through your neighborhood. I don't want them slain because they didn't return some flashed hand signal or because they turned up their music a little loud at the gas station. I don't want them slain because they didn't turn their eyes down and say "Yes officer, sir."
I really don't have time for black power yet upon hearing these words echo from the depths of Michaela Angela Davis chest "Why don't you think black is enough" I knew I'd have to take time out of my defense mode to watch CNN Sunday December 9, 8 p.m. ET/PT.
So, Who Is Black In America? I Am...as are my beautiful sons...