‘Merica

 

 

The 4th of July, like any national holiday, had been something of little significance in my household growing up. Which struck me as odd considering my father served as a soldier in the army. As I got older I understood why my parents had a love-hate relationship with the U.S.

As minorities both my mother and my father have experienced horrific displays of racism. Racially profiled, experience in “separate–but-equal” schools and general denial of services have made America’s race issue quite tangible for my father. My mother has also faced the racist monster from both blacks and whites, and now, in the blooming culture of Miami, hispanics.

Native Americans were killed off, Blacks were enslaved, Asians used and when doubted put into holding camps, and Hispanics, Jews, Italians,  Irish and people from the Middle East have all endured the ugliness of America. But there is beauty, isn’t there?

In Miami alone we are blessed with seeing the beauty of Jewish families walking to Temple on Saturdays. Our friends discuss what they give up for Lint and Ramadan. Calle Ocho and Carnival bring us color and culture from the Caribbean. We are lucky, luckier than we realize for the diversity of our great nation. We have had some troubled times. Our history is full of blood and hate. But there is also love, the everlasting hunger for freedom, justice and equality. That is what makes America. And although we’ve endured near hell, we’re a family and those wounds are tended to with love. No, we are not perfect. We eat junk, stress out, and too often lose track of what’s important. But we also forgive, fight, and forge.

I like to think that we are in this together. Farmers and soldiers, artists and scientists. All sexes, races, religions. And we all came here – one way or another- for a purpose. Nobody’s born perfect, not even a country. We’re still young and have a lifetime ahead of us. Where we are now is not the promised land, but we came together, we taught each other right from wrong and we are learning, everyday we are learning to be better for ourselves and each other.

 

Happy Birthday America !!!!!

 

xoxoxoxoxox,

Em.

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‘Round these parts

I know that tree. My cousin’s dad used to play dominos and cards under that tree with all the other older men in the neighborhood. He’d sit there, in that white fold away table, one leg crossed over the other in the same shirt he wore every Saturday since 1985 – I know because I have a photograph of him in that shirt at my first birthday party.

That park? There? That one? Yeah, I scraped my knee chasing another cousin while we were playing tag, It was after some party or game or another and our families were piling into our respective cars and neither of us wanted to go home being “it”. After I scraped my knee he came over, helped me up, said I could tag him and when i lifted my hand to do so he jooked me and jumped into his mama’s van yelling “SIKE” as they pulled off. It’s also where that dude in the Chevy, the box, with cornrows and a grill on his bottom teeth spotted me my first summer home from college. Told me he’d missed me and was glad to see me. Then his girlfriend’s sister pulled up in her Toyota, looked me in the face and said I see you Ed, then pulled off. Laughing it off we sat on the hood for another hour or so – even as the sister came home and eased us, because my best friend and his best friend were also making up for lost time.

That store, Sto’, where I first learned to count change and had my first, and last, pickled egg and where one of my favorite friends from school still works, was also where we used to meet my sister so she would come over to our house for the weekend. Her mom and our dad pretending they were old friends rather than two people who had parented a child together.

On the corner there? That was my Uncle David’s house, back when he was with his second baby mama. And he was with her for a while. I used to go there every afternoon he and my father wanted to go have a drink, or a smoke, somewhere. I’d play in the backyard and wait for Michelle to come out of her backyard and since neither house had a fence – it was a community after all – we had a whole lot of playing space.

We never actually lived in Perrine, no, my folks and I lived in a cheap duplex on the good side of the high way. That I was at nearly every Saturday jam or MLK day festivities means nothing. That my grandfather, the only one I’d ever know, was the guy everyone went to for motor issues and sugar canes, lived there and his was one of the many houses I knew like the back of my had means even less. These and the fact that my school was ridiculously disproportioned and my high yellow, almond eyed ass was about the only black in my advanced classes and so I never really saw these kids at school make me foreign around these parts. This neighborhood is tied to so many firsts, and lasts in my life, it raised my father, and holds a special place in my mind.  But still, when I come here – formal English and features that hide my African blood almost completely- I am a stranger.

Surprised?

Untitled

  “The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be — will be utterly submerged” 

                                                                                         -Tom Buchanan, 

                                                                                Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby

Earlier this week Cheerios posted a commercial that involved an interracial family. (Click here to view the commercial) Some people voiced their rather, strong, opinions against interracial marriage. This led to others being floored by the audacity of racist comments “in 2013”. Apparently, we’ve forgotten that we haven’t reached that utopian ideal of harmony. Have you been fooled into believing that people are no longer racist, or xenophobic?

Just because we sit in the same classroom, doesn’t mean we eat lunch together. Humans have always had and may always ‘s have an US vs. THEM mentality. That’s what we do. Our planet against another, our country, our state, our family, our siblings. We have a bi-racial President, yes, but let we forget there is still some deep-rooted division going on in America.

Take Georgia for example. Last April the students in Wilcox County held their first ever integrated prom. Annually they had held a “black prom” and a “white prom”. This year they finally joined the ranks of – I hope- the rest of America. And that was only after they spoke out and obtained donations from all over the world. One student told NBC News that she felt as though they were “living Martin Luther King’s dream”.

And what of the man in Virginia, white, who was accused of kidnapping his daughters. You see, his daughters are half black and the American mind wasn’t able to register this possibility before accusing a man of not being the birth parent to his babies.

Progress is a slow process. We are not living in such a racist world as existed 50, 30 or even 10 years ago; but we have quite a journey before racial tolerance is more common than common sense.  Some say racism will come to an end when we all mix up together and everybody’s the same color. But don’t you see? We’re all afraid of that too. Honestly, it’s not just whites who want to keep their race pure. But that? we’ll save that for another day.