Black in America ~ Kujichagulia — Self–Determination
Obsidian Ebony Sioux Blackfoot Visions
My family ranges from pale white with blue eyes to Darkest Black. However I really had no idea of my Rainbow family until Aunts passed away and then when my father died in 1995. Then I was confronted with somebody who had white skin and blue eyes saying that they were my cousins. I always knew my Paternal Grandfather had been married twice but it was then that I realized his first wife must have been white. That was probably the real reason he left Petersburg, VA and moved to New York during the early 1900s…
As a child during the 1960s, I remember being called Tar Baby. I remember my mother who was light-skinned but who suffered under Jim Crow in Dayton, Ohio saying, “If You’re white you’re alright. If your Brown stick around. If you’re Black Get Back!” Every day on the playground of a Black school Black kids would taunt me. Tar Baby! African! Monkey! I came home crying every day. My Dad who was Dark-Skinned always told me, “The Blacker the Berry the Sweeter the Juice. If the berry’s too light it has no use.” That would give me comfort.
However it took decades before I was comfortable in my Black skin. But the pigeon holing by the Black Community, My Community was very evident in the 60s and 70s when I was coming of age. I don’t have what many Black people define as African features. Whatever that means. From a child even until now Black people, white people and other Peoples of Color will ask me if I’m part Native American. The answer to that question is Yes but if they looked closely at the African continent they’d find Black people with all manner of varied facial features. But nobody does. They just assume.
My Speech. My Dad taught me to speak what he called “The King’s English.” Slang was not allowed in our home. As a result Black people say I sound like I’m white or that I speak proper. Excuse me but aren’t we all supposed to speak English instead of Ebonics?! White people say I’m very articulate (unsaid ~ “for a Black person) It’s a No Win situation.
The kinky nappy hair did not help. I was called Brillo pad. There was the evil straightening comb with Dixie Peach and Ultra Sheen (hair grease). My Mom telling me to bend my head so she could get to my “Kitchen.” My hair was so thick, teeth broke out of combs my mother attempted on my Kinapps. Then came 1972 when my Dad decided that I was going to get an Afro. Watu Wasuri Use Afro Sheen. Then I was Beautiful. Angela Davis Black Panther Party Soul Train Beautiful. In the 80s I surrendered to Jheri Curl Juice. Since then I’ve been pig-tailed, relaxed, braided, loc’ed and now with my not so thick Menopausal hair I’ve returned home to my Afro. Not as Fierce. Somewhat wiry and thanks to L’Oreal always colored various shades of red.
The new stigma for me now, Ageism. Being a Black Woman over 50 who thanks to that once hated Dark Skin now is grateful because Black Don’t Crack!