I was so proud to see my friend and Image Activist Michaela Angela Davis interviewed by Soledad O’Brien for CNN’s new series “Who Is Black In America?: Soledad O’Brien Explores Racial Identity”
In this clip Michaela asks one of the seminal questions of our time.
I have forever contemplated similar questions. I am black but of mixed race and born and raised in America.
I was born at the intersection of two lineages. One black one white. Different countries of origin. Languages. Economic status. Professions. Political systems. And so on. All of this informed me as a person.
My mother and aunt married my father and his best friend in the 60s. Their unions were embraced by both sides of the family from the very first day. I have never heard, seen or detected anything to the contrary.
Both families settled in the Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park just a short walk from the adjoining neighborhood of Kenwood, the former home to President Obama and his family. Hyde Park was nationally recognized as the most liberal and racially mixed neighborhood in the country. It also happened to be in one of the most segregated cities in the County.
The fruit of my family’s unions were always in fullest view at Christmas during which adults and kids of all colors – black, white and in between awoke, showered, played, ate, slept together and loved each other.
My parents, aunts and uncles always referred to me and those like me as “mulatto”. We all considered it a term of endearment until we learned that it had become politically incorrect for some. But to this day I find it hard to use another word to describe myself and others like me. Sometimes I simply refuse to use another term and I explain why.
Our families used the word with a sense of pride. That something unique (but not better) had been delivered. As I grew older I learned to detect two other things in their voices. A trepidation that we might encounter fear, hate, injustice or even violence. Moreover, the hope, belief and resolve that we represented that which should be accepted without question. That we represent and would define the future.
As I grew up and went to college I learned what it meant to be black and I learned the answer to Angela’s question in the video – “why don’t you think black is enough? ” My answer.
If you are looking for something different to do in Harlem on your days off, check out the River Art on the Hudson River along the path.
Here are just a few of some of the many works starting from West 130th Street down to West 68th Street including new pieces that were not there last summer.
The bike path and new park areas and piers all along the Hudson River have been built up with landscape, sitting areas and sculptures for the city and tourists to enjoy. I can remember 10 years ago when nothing was developed along the river. It was still nice to bike or jog along but now it is beautiful, very scenic and on the weekends it gets more and more crowded. As nice if not nicer than Chicago’s, Millennium Park and Austin’s, Zilker Park.
Want to meet and mingle with some of your EveryBlock neighbors offline? Stop by Dinosaur BBQ (700 W. 125th St at 12th) on Monday, February 27 from 6-9pm.
Catch up with concerned and active neighbors, chat with your EveryBlock NYC community coordinator, while enjoying a drink and sliders. Let’s be better neighbors by working together to improve our blocks and community! Feel free to bring a friend along for this neighborhood get-together!
Gil Scott-Heron, poet and musician, has died at 62. A Harlem resident and neighbor who resided on East 112th street who was considered by many as the Godfather of Rap. He died on May 27, 2011 on Friday afternoon in New York. He became sick after a European trip. Credited with being one of the progenitors of hip hop, and is best known for the spoken-word piece “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” Like many other music greats he struggled with substance abuse but continued to share his music and talent throughout the years. One of his recent projects “I’m New Here” released in February 2010 was received with much critical acclaim. http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/im-new-here-bonus-track-version/id351170362
Here is an excerpt from a video clip of Gil-Scott in his own words…. (from Racialicious by Arturo on May 28, 2011)
“The catchphrase, what that was all about, ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,’ that was about the fact that the first change that takes place is in your mind. You have to change your mind before you change the way you live and the way you move. So when we said that ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,’ we were saying that the thing that’s gonna change people is something that no one will ever be able to capture on film. It will just be something that you see, and all of a sudden you realize I’m on the wrong page, or I’m on the right page but I’m on the wrong note, and I’ve got to get in sync with everyone else to understand what’s happening in this country.
But I think that the Black Americans have been the only die-hard Americans here, because we’re the only ones who carried the process through the process that everyone else has to sort of skip stages. We’re the ones who march, we’re the ones who carry the Bible, we’re the ones who carry the flag, we’re the ones who have to go through the courts, and being born American didn’t seem to matter, because we were born American, but we still had to fight for what we were looking for, and we still had to go through those channels and those processes.”
– Mediaburn, 1991