Race & Politics, Theory & Essay

40 Million Ways To Be Black. What’s Yours?

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While talking to Panama a couple weeks ago about the reaction to the post about Pharrell’s GIRL cover and Black male privilege, the conversation somehow segued to us discussing how different our backgrounds are, especially when it comes to the ambiguous and amorphous concept of Blackness.. He’s biracial, lived in the Blackest state on Earth (Alabama), the Blackest city on Earth (Detroit), and Germany. (Yes. That Germany.) He also went to an all-boys HBCU, and currently lives in the Bougie Black Person’s Mecca (Washington, D.C.).

I grew up and still live in Pittsburgh, PA -- the Whitest major metropolitan area in the country. I also lived on one of the most dangerous streets in the city, but I was somewhat insulated from that because my parents sent me to private school in the suburbs and, from the time I was maybe 12 years old, I was a star basketball player. (By my junior year in high school, we moved to that suburb.) This awkward simultaneous connection to and distance from Blackness continued in college. I went to a predominately White university, and I immediately immersed myself with the BlackBlack people on campus. As a junior I was an officer in the Afro-American Society, and my senior year I was an editor of the Black newspaper, The Nia News. But I was also a scholarship basketball player. Which meant I was immune to many of the issues Black students faced.

The conversation then shifted to how the uniqueness of each of our backgrounds, upbringings, and character traits (both learned and innate) controls each of our thoughts and actions today. None of our beliefs, opinions, personalities, and biases happened by accident. All earned their way to be with us.

Maybe I’m not as dogmatic about love and marriage if I didn’t grow up in a household with two parents deeply in love with and committed to each other. Maybe I gravitate towards the back of every crowded room I’m in today because of residue from being so self-conscious about the shape of my head as a kid that I made sure to sit in the back of every classroom so there’d be no one behind me to tease me about it. Maybe I don’t finish our book and make the decision to write full-time if the program I worked for at Duquesne University doesn’t lose its funding…and maybe I don’t end up at Duquesne if I didn’t get tired of being in the classroom…and maybe I wouldn’t have gotten tired of being in the classroom if I taught at a better school district.

Anyway, to quote Dr. Henry Louis Gates, if there are 40 million Black Americans, there are 40 million ways to be Black. I just shared a couple snippets from my Black American story. What’s yours? How did you come to be who you are today?

(And, if you don’t happen to be Black, but happen to be reading this, share your story too. We’re all family here and shit.)

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

For the next nine days, you can purchase your own I Love Bougie Black Girls t-shirt via Teespring for the insanely low prices of $11.50 for a men’s shirt, $13 for a women’s shirt

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and $24.50 for a hoodie.

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The campaign ends Sunday, March 23. We’re already halfway to our goal, but we still need to move a few shirts to reach it.

Anywho, they’re available now, so go and BUY!!! and be fly.

Filed Under: ,
Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a contributing editor for EBONY.com. He resides in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes.

  • Cheekie Mae

    The first card game I learned to play was literally Spades. Not Old Maid. Not Go Fish. Spades. I was taught by my grandma, the Spades guru at like… age 6. Come for me.

    No, really… come for me. HUZZAH.

    Happy Friday.

    • IcePrincess

      Gurl u don’t want it….u don’t want me to put this St. Louis style butt whupin on u in spades. Betta yet, you & I should be partners in a girls v boys game, for money lmaoooo. Run it.

      • IcePrincess

        But not against panama, he don’t kno how to keep his hands to himself….

    • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

      <– never learned how to play spades #speedgang #unonation

      • http://trulytafakari.com/ dtafakari

        I learned how to play Spades late and I’m not good at it. My husband disowned me as a Spades partner our first year married lol. But I can play speed with the best of em.

        • Shay-d-Lady

          its good yall got that understood early. that can definitely lead to divorce lbvs

      • LMNOP

        You can still learn.

        • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

          U doing lessons

          • LMNOP

            I have “learned” to play spades several times. I’m not quick with card game rules, but what I remember is, cards are passed out, words are said, something happens involving books, your partner gets angry, someone else takes over your place. So I might not be the best teacher, but I think Rachmo said she was going to start a remedial spades class once, which is a great idea.

            • Kema

              Sounds about right. I think we are on the same level.

              • LMNOP

                lol, I’m just like “yeah, take over my spot. All these cards with numbers on them were distracting me from drinking and telling funny stories which is all I wanted to do anyway.”

      • http://TheNewEve.com/ Bunni

        I whoop the mightiest of azz in speed and spit

        • Kema

          I was just going to ask about spit!!! Man! That was one of the best parts of junior high.

          • LMNOP

            spit! lol, I haven’t thought about that game in 20 years..

        • Agatha Guilluame

          It’s just Spit Bunni. Not Speed. Not two-person solitaire. Not fastest cardslinger of the West. It’s Spit people. I don’t care what you called it in your hometown.

      • John Shannon

        Don’t know how to play either, but Don’t test me on Blackjack, Texas Hold’ Em or Poker

        • Malik

          At least you know a useful game like poker.

        • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

          Thanks to my late great-uncle, I will SON you in Blackjack. Heck, even when I hit up casinos on occasion, that’s my favorite game to play.

          • Keisha

            Blackjack is cool, but too many other people have a hand in whether or not you get paid. That’s the aspect of the game that I don’t like.

        • Keisha

          Texas Hold’em is the best poker game ever! I hate that the Poker Stars got shut down. I used to stay on site winning money.

      • Keisha

        You gotta learn…you’re missing out on all the fun!

    • Sigma_Since 93

      They call me Mr Boston! *In my Sidney Poitier voice*

      • Keisha

        Bid Whist? I love that game! It makes you never want to go back to playing spades.

        • Sigma_Since 93

          My clique always played spades and tunk. My wife isn’t a card player so I never learned. :-(

          • Keisha

            Awww…which reminds me, I definitely need to add “plays cards” as a requirement in a future spouse…or at least that have to be willing to learn.

          • panamajackson

            Tunk was my way of making money in high school.

    • Epsilonicus

      Shucks, the only card game I know how to play is spades.

      • Val

        No bid whist?

        • Epsilonicus

          I literally only know how to play spades.

          • LMNOP

            You could learn war really easily. It is an awful game, but kids love it.

    • Soula Powa

      Let’s play Spades at the VSB BBQ. Oh wait…

      Naw, seriously though, when the pilot takes off and y’all brothers are making bank, these e-streets need the VSB BBQ.

    • Keisha

      I learned how to play spades when I was a baby too!

    • Shay-d-Lady

      lol me too. well no it was speed then tonk then spades. I didn’t know anything about those other games till I started volunteering in the summers at a day care/summer camp program

  • nillalatte

    So, I’m reading and ain’t black, but yyyyyaaaallllllllllllllllllllllllll know I got some stories! I’ll get to explaining my ‘blackness’ in a minute. First, a co-worker and I went to dinner tonight. During our couple of hours of socializing and talking we get in the car and scout around the town. Somewhere in our conversation it turned to race. (groan) She said, “Please don’t take offense, but I thought you were black when I interviewed you [over the phone].” I replied, “Really? Why? Did I ‘sound’ black or use a lot of slang?” She couldn’t/wouldn’t pin point why she had that thought. I was quite amused. I asked her ethnicity and she copped to being Mexican/Latina. Then I told her that I had a lot of black and multiracial friends, and of course, my ex is Arab. She appeared genuinely shocked. Then a whole different story about skin tone and ability to tan ensued.

    Anyways, my ‘blackness’. My high school was 70% black people. I had black friends and white friends. There weren’t a lot of other races in Nashville, at least not in my surroundings, at the time. Most of my white friends were from my elementary & middle (jr high) school days who also lived in our predominately white neighbor. While in high school, I got a job at a restaurant in a predominately black area. I made a lot more black friends and we hung out a lot being foolish. I stayed rolling in ‘em streets. I attended TSU, a historically and predominately black university.

    Can we talk about my arabiness next week? Did you know Virgo is a mutatable sign?

    • cryssi

      She might have thought you were black if you speak from your “chest”. I noticed the black culture tend to speak from the chest, while white people tend to have a nasal voice. Not Fran from the nanny, just different.

      • Boo Radley

        SAY IT WICHO CHEST!!!!!

    • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

      So is Gemini

      • LMNOP

        And ninja turtles

        • http://vagabondaesthetics.tumblr.com/ Ricky

          TURTLE POWER

        • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

          Shell yeah

    • Tentpole

      Black is also a lifestyle, and you fit right in.

    • Obsidian Files

      @Ms. Nillalatte:
      Indeed, the Virgin is a Mutable (correct spelling – very important for Virgo folks!); did you know that this is a Virgo Full Moon weekend? Your time to shine!

      O.

      • Kema

        Tell me Obie… What does this mean for me? I’m a virgo.

        • LMNOP

          I would have guessed “mutable” means able to be muted. But I feel like probably neither you or Nilla have mute buttons, so maybe it means you can mutate, and have super powers. Like the X-men. So what is your super power?

          • Kema

            I meant the full moon part. Should I play the lottery? Will I meet the one? lol! A mutable sign is adjustable, flexible, adaptable and they thrive on change. The mutable signs are Virgo, Gemini, Sagittarius and Pisces.

            • LMNOP

              Well I’m no astrology expert, but I predict the full moon will make it easier for you to see at night.

              • Obsidian Files

                @Ms. LMNOP:
                Did you know that in antquity, generals made use of astrologers to determine the best time to launch an assault? And the full moon wasn’t that time…
                O.

                • Epsilonicus

                  No moon was the perfect time bc then you could launch an attack in the dark.

                  • Obsidian Files

                    @Mr. Eps:
                    Correct. That, and the fact that you wanted the ruler of the Ascendant, or 1st House (which represents your army – the one doing the attacking), to be stronger than the ruler of the 7th House (which represents the army you’re fighting against).

                    William Lilly’s astrological expertise was such that it was considered the equivalent to several regiments. Guido Bonatti’s skills were highly sought after in Renaissance Italy. The Caliphs of the Islamic world (and which would include the Moguls of India, etc.), same – they highly sought out the best astrological minds of their era. Which reminds me, since we’re talking about cities and whatnot:

                    Did you know that Baghdad was a city that was astrologically founded? It’s true.

                    O.

                    • Epsilonicus

                      Never knew that about Baghdad.

                    • Obsidian Files

                      @Mr. Eps:
                      Yea…and here’s something else for ya: though the World Trade Center wasn’t astrologically founded, the horoscope for the moment it was built shows its ultimate destruction…
                      O.

              • nillalatte

                LOL… foolishness. :D

            • Obsidian Files

              @Ms. Kema:
              Correct. As for what you should do? The full moon in general represents a time of fullness, or bringing that which was done in the dark into the light…reaping the harvest already sown. Especially in a Sign like Virgo, which represents the maiden holding a chaff of wheat in her hands…
              O.

          • Obsidian Files

            @Ms. LMNOP:
            The term “Mutable” in astro-speak refers to the “Modality” of Zodiac Signs, that fall into the Mutable camp: Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces. These are the “transitional” or ending periods of the seasons, and as such, these Signs represents “transitions” in some way. They are considered more flexible and fluid than the Cardinal Signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn – which represent the beginning of the seasons) and the Fixed Signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius), which represents “the dog days of summer”, if you will.
            By the way, if you go back to the Mutable Signs above, only one of them is “mute” – and that is Pisces, a Water Sign. All the rest are Human (well, Sagittarius is half-human, half horse), and as such, can speak…
            O.

        • Obsidian Files

          @Ms. Kema:
          In itself, I wouldn’t advise too much; an examination of the native’s horoscope is recommended.
          O.

      • Sandpaper

        A full moon and St. paddy’s day celebrations will equal big trouble this weekend.

        Watch your back people!

    • Obsidian Files

      @Ms. Nillalatte:
      Indeed, the Virgin is a Mutable (correct spelling – very important for Virgo folks!) Sign; did you know that this is a Virgo Full Moon weekend? Your time to shine!

      O.

      PS: Arabs are White, so you’re not in the Got-A-Chocolate-Brotha-Club – yet. But you still get cool points and Honorary Sista Status for hangin’ with the Negro folks back in the day, though… ;)

      • LMNOP

        Arabs are white on census forms, but try telling that to the police. And really people from the middle east have a wide range of skin colors.

        I think officially classifying all people of middle eastern descent in the US as white is nonsensical. In the context of a white supremacist society, white people (and to a lesser extent, people who look white) benefit from racism. Arabs in the US are targets of racism, pretty regularly, so to classify them as white makes no sense to me.

        Another thing that bothers me on census forms is the lack of an “indigenous to the americas” box. Technically, you should only check native american if your ancestors are from what is now the US. If they are indigenous to the area that is now Mexico, you would think you’d check the same box for race, but in fact there is no appropriate box to check.

        • Epsilonicus

          “Another thing that bothers me on census forms is the lack of an “indigenous to the americas” box. Technically, you should only check native american if your ancestors are from what is now the US. If they are indigenous to the area that is now Mexico, you would think you’d check the same box for race, but in fact there is no appropriate box to check.”

          This happens because the concept of race is suppose to be intentionally ambiguous.

          • LMNOP

            Yeah. But they FORCE you to pick both an ethnicity and a race. And how are you supposed to pick a race if none of the options apply to you?

            • Epsilonicus

              Pick a random one.

              • LMNOP

                lol. I think they might have a write in option, actually.

                I used to do surveys and so many people have trouble answering their race. Sometimes because they don’t have a good option to pick, but surprisingly, a lot of white people have trouble answering this question and say things like “oh, I’m just plain old american.” And since you’re at work you have to take a deep breath and explain this to them using “ma’am” instead of “b!tch.”

              • Boo Radley

                I regularly declare myself an Eskimo on those forms.

        • Obsidian Files

          @Ms. LMNOP:
          That there are police officers who are ignorant about these things doesn’t change the fact that Arabs are White; having said that, you are correct to point out that there are Levels of Whiteness.
          For example, consider the current situation in Ukraine; it leapt up to the top of the world agenda, and the now three year old civil war obtaining in Syria got shoved to the back of the bus, so to speak. Both groups of people are indeed White; but it is clear that Ukrainians are Whiter than Syrians, LOL.
          This racial thing is deep…
          O.

          • nillalatte

            I hate to burst your bubble Obie, but there ARE Black Arabs. My Egyptian Black friend would laugh at you for your foolishness. Please take a good look at the Saudi family. You will find many of the Royal family are, indeed, black. Arabs are a mixture of many different skin tones – from the Black of black to the white of white. Basra, Iraq is famous for their Black Arab population.

            • Obsidian Files

              @Ms. Nillatte:
              Hmm…it would be interesting indeed to see your Black Eygptian friends chat with my Black Egyptian friends…because the latter have quite a differing view of things – and so did the late great Anwar Sadat…
              O.

              • SuperStrings

                Egyptians have their own internal racial dynamics. Southern Egyptians tend to not identify with the northern Egyptians. This actually goes back several thousand years. It’s why Menes’ unification of the north and south 7000 years ago was seen as such a crowning achievement at the time. A similar dynamic exists in Ethiopia and Sudan.

      • Tentpole

        O. Arabs are only considered white because they had to choose between Black, white or yellow and it was the southern european making them choose.

        • nillalatte

          True. There is a movement now, and I can’t think of the organization off the top of my head, that has petitioned for Arab to be removed from “White” to their own check box for race.

          Interestingly enough, my younger daughter just told me recently that her friends (all kinds of racial mixes so I don’t even classify them as one over another) asked what was her racial makeup. When she told them she was half, they said, “Girl you white.” I’ll be damn. Her father is DARK. Her color is way more tan than her mom could ever be. My children are multiracial considering the 3 known ethnicities in me and her single ethnic Arab/Iraqi father.

      • SuperStrings

        Arabs historically are semites. Many Africans are also semites.

        • LMNOP

          And Arab usually refers to people from the Middle East and parts of Northern Africa. People from Africa are generally considered African.

          • Obsidian Files

            @Ms. LMNOP:
            Try telling that to the Northern Sudanese, LOL…
            O.

            • ratchet d-Ibaka

              You are VERY, absolutely correct on that one! Also many Egyptians don’t consider themselves as being African. If anything, it is quite the insult.

        • nillalatte

          Which is why I chuckle every damn time a Jew calls an Arab an anti-semite. It’s hysterical! They have no idea of their own Ashkanazi Jewish roots apparently.

          • SuperStrings

            Yeah I laugh at this too. They have effectively monopolized the word.

      • nillalatte

        so you’re not in the Got-A-Chocolate-Brotha-Club – yet…

        LMAO… Obi, seriously? I’ve had my allotment of chocolate, more than many. :P LOL

        • Obsidian Files

          @Ms. Nillalatte:
          Easy…calm down. I was speaking to the matter in terms of “hubbie” – not you “sampling” the 32 flavors. But it’s all good, I’m a liberal kind of guy when it comes to such things – relax…
          :)
          O.

        • LMNOP

          So, I know you weren’t talking about the food, but a daily allotment of chocolate is a great idea. It is an excellent source of iron and helps promote emotional stability, and by extension family harmony (I made that up, but the iron part is true).

    • Dr. Fabulous

      Hey fellow Tiger!!!

      • nillalatte

        What up?! :D

    • Kema

      *runs into thread* VIRGO!!!!

    • Reemo

      I’m happy to see another Big Blue alum

  • free

    My skin colour.

  • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

    My blackness is definitely a bit off the wall. For one, I’m multi-ethnic while being Black on both sides. My mom’s family is from the South (Atlanta and South Georgia, to be precise) while my dad’s family is Bajan (as in from Barbados). Even more, my dad’s family came over early enough that they came through Ellis Island. I wonder if they had a colored section among the immigrants. Hmmm…

    I grew up in a middle class Black neighborhood where I grew up with both parents, and everyone had their father in the household. I went to a private all-Black school for K-8, passing through Addisleigh Park on the way there and back, where the vast majority of kids had both parents at home and single parenthood was relatively rare. It’s not that I didn’t see poor Black folks, since my paternal grandfather lived in the projects, but it wasn’t my everyday struggle.

    After elementary school, and being fetted by all sorts of different private schools because of my test scores, I end up clear on the other side of Queens for high school with all these different people, White kids and Latin kids and Asian kids, oh my! There were Black people too, from all parts of Brooklyn and Queens (and if you know NYC hood politics, that could have been VERY dangerous). Oh, and taught mostly by Midwesterners, thanks to the rules of the denomination that ran the school. Then off to Rutgers, where I’m now out in the burbs in a MUCH larger school with blander, drunker version of the kids I went to HS with. Where I ran a Black newspaper, but became notorious for my column in a White one. Go figure.

    Oh, and I am a scientist by trade, which means that save for the one time I worked in a drug plant across the street from Jay Z’s old projects, I have worked mostly with White and Asian people, with the occasional fresh-off-the-boat Black immigrant working side by side. It was so hard to convince people that Soul Food is an actual ethnic cuisine that we should do for the company lunch. :)

    • Rachmo

      We found the manifest of the ship my great grandmother came on when they sailed to Ellis Island. Very trippy

      • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

        What country did your great grandmother come from and what year? My folks on my dad’s side came in various waves either directly from Barbados or by way of Panama. My great-grandfather and his brothers worked on the Panama Canal, got treated like crap by the White American bosses, yet decided to go for the raw and uncut racism in the mean streets of Brooklyn. Go figure.

        • Rachmo

          They came from Bermuda around in the early 1900s. I think it was around 1912? They came over in waves and came from the dainty world of islands and cricket to Jersey. Go figure indeed

          • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

            Interesting. My grandparents came over (separately) to their parents in Brooklyn in that same time frame, with the parents traveling ahead. Considering how small the West Indian community was back then, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had crossed paths. Small world…

            • Rachmo

              Every time we agree/find common ground I feel a disturbance in the force.

              • BreezyX2

                BOL!

  • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

    Also, I have a sidebar topic for the married men of VSB: how many of you lived on your own (no roommates, no family, no one) before you got married? Also, ladies, if you’re married, feel free to chime in if your husband was living solo before marriage. I’m curious about something…

    • http://trulytafakari.com/ dtafakari

      My husband had his own apartment before we got married.

    • Sigma_Since 93

      Count Me Out *In pubescent New Edition voice*

      My college roommate became my roommate for a spell after college.

      • http://trulytafakari.com/ dtafakari

        Now I can’t get “Can You Stand the Rain” out my head lol. I’m over singing “Will you be there for meeeeeeeee” lol

        • Sigma_Since 93

          What’s your favorite New Edition song?

          • http://TheNewEve.com/ Bunni

            Blasphemous to ask someone to choose just one.

            http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lxpjkoD7ip1r2v293o1_400.gif

            • Sigma_Since 93

              Cool it Now; my all time favorite song based upon the day of the week.

              • http://TheNewEve.com/ Bunni

                I’ll admit that a lot of my favorites are indeed BBD songs lol

                • http://trulytafakari.com/ dtafakari

                  Yeah, I came up musically in the BBD era. I know far more BBD songs than NE.

                • Sigma_Since 93

                  So If I pulled out my 1991 BBD hat I got from the concert and broke out into the Do Me Baby routine, would you throw the Vickies at me? On second thought you don’t wear panties.

                  • http://TheNewEve.com/ Bunni

                    I reserve all pannie throwing nowadays for my lady :-)

            • Kema

              Must… look… away…

              • Sigma_Since 93

                You know you can’t resist looking at the shags and s-curls………submit………LOL!!

          • http://trulytafakari.com/ dtafakari

            OMG, so many.

            “If It Isn’t Love” but “Can You Stand the Rain” is a close, close second

            • Kema

              *sings ‘Candy Girl’*

    • MsSula

      My husband had his own place before we got married as well.

    • http://uphereoncloud9.com/ Wu Young

      Lived with a few roommates after college but was living by myself for the last five years before I got papers put on me.

    • Terry Odis

      I had my own spot for about two years before I got out the game.

      • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

        As for myself, I did the same thing as you did: had my own spot for a couple years before settling down. The reason I asked was that I was talking with my bro about how many dudes live on their own, and I also asked the same question on FB. Interesting that the married brothers I know lived on their own, while the married White guys either lived at home or with their roommates.

        • LMNOP

          Weird. I wonder if that pattern would hold up if you could get a statistically significant sample. Do you have any ideas about why that might be? (I’m guessing yes lol)

          • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

            Just from talking, I think it’s a Black-people-with-money thing more than anything else. The working-class brothers I know didn’t really live on their own, and a lot of White kids with money lived with roommates. I think because so many brothers fresh out of college tend to either not stay in the same area or went to school with White kids they didn’t have deep ties with, they end up on their own out of sheer necessity. Can’t really live with people you aren’t close to or aren’t cool with, and it’s a lot harder for Black guys to find roommates like that.

            • LMNOP

              Probably varies geographically too. Because living alone in the NY or DC areas is sooo expensive, but in many other parts of the country its much more possible.

        • John Shannon

          Not Married, but you just raised a POV about something that irks me- Gender Roles and the Live Alone-Shack Up Complex. If/Since Men “live alone” before marriage, how in the he!! can guys Demand or Expect Women to be Betty Homemaker? What exactly are/were Men doing all that time- paying for a Maid or Homekeeper???

    • Epsilonicus

      I lived a year in Baltimore solo (we did long distance after college). Then when she moved down we lived with my parents for a year and then found our own place.

    • Reemo

      I did not live on my own before I got married. My eventual wife and I actually lived together until we actually got married and then broke up.

    • ForeverCC

      my husband has never lived on his own. he lived with parents, roommates, and his brother before we got married.

  • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

    Born and raised in Boston (which has its own stigmas regarding black people), I lived in a predominantly black neighborhood although my parents tried to keep me exposed to diversity by going to camps and programs at private schools (never actually went to them full time, cuz broke) and going to one of the better public schools in the city. I rolled in two entirely different circles, my neighborhood friends and school friends with some awkward overlaps. Fast forward to now I live in a predominantly white suburb (which might be a okey doke,cuz gentrification), work at a predominantly white financial institution, and its about an even split on friends.

    • Epsilonicus

      I was shocked at how racist Boston is.

      • LMNOP

        I’ve always heard that Boston is a really racist place.

        Those boston cream donuts are delicious though.

        • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

          You grow up blind to it but yeah there’s some parts of Boston u just want no parts of

        • Kema

          Boston cream donuts = my fave!

          • LMNOP

            There is pretty much no subject that doesn’t make me think of food.

      • Sigma_Since 93

        My mom’s lived in Boston back when they were integrating the schools. She and her sisters talk bout the fights they would get into. That along with the cops jacking up Dee Brown for no reason, Louis Gates and the Harvard police, and the whole “I Hate Monday’s” language directed at Carl Crawford keeps my disdain for Boston high.

        • Epsilonicus

          I have been to Boston and It felt like Burmingham a la 1950. I literally did not get served in a restaurant. This was in 2010.

      • Negro Libre

        Boston (which like Patrice Oneal once said basically means New England) has mastered the art of passive aggressive racism, every one else is playing catch up.

        • SuperStrings

          Nothing passive about it. Whites in South Boston are/have been pretty open about not liking blacks and latinos.

        • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

          As someone who married a woman from Connecticut, all I can say is CHURCH! The problem is that in CT, the Black folk don’t even see how dirty they are done. Bunch of happy singing coons they are…

    • Malik

      Boston sucks

    • SuperStrings

      “which might be a okey doke,cuz gentrification”
      With my salary now, I can’t afford to live in my old neighborhood in Boston. I grew up on the same block as Bob the Chef’s.

      • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

        Its only a matter of time before they come for Roxbury too

        • SuperStrings

          I thought they already started. Dudley doesn’t look anything like when I was growing up. I’m talking back when Boston still had an L-train.

    • Michelle

      I have an idea that if every white person, from Boston, would perform one of those DNA searches, a significant amount of them will discover that not all of their family members came from Ireland.
      It has something to do with their facial features.

      • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

        Well this is a city that unofficially made St Patrick’s day a municipal holiday, they riding with it.

  • Tentpole

    There may be 40 million ways to be Black in America, but we travel on the same road. The problem begin when some think they can ignore or re-write our history to overcome their own deficiencies.

  • http://vagabondaesthetics.tumblr.com/ Ricky

    I’m a son of two 1st Generation American from the Caribbean and Panama respectively. My father was in the military for the majority of my childhood so I’ve lived in Florida, Georgia, Virgina (like 4 times), DC, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York throughout my brief existence thus far. Constantly moving has meant that I have pretty much zero friends that I know from “way back.” Which pretty much explains why my social skills are what they are and why I don’t expect people to stick around too long. Parents divorced when I was a pre-teen. Or separated. whatever same difference and I pretty much grew up with my father.

    • LMNOP

      What was your favorite out of all those places? Was there anywhere you thought “when I grow up and have kids, this is where I want to live?” NY? Or did it just kind of happen that you ended up there?

      • http://vagabondaesthetics.tumblr.com/ Ricky

        I’m moving down with my great-grandparents/extended family in Panama when I have kids. My favorite out of those places is NY because that’s always been where the majority of my American family lived.

        • LMNOP

          I like that plan, and am kind of jealous.

    • http://trulytafakari.com/ dtafakari

      My stepdad was also in the Army; my social experiences mirror yours. I pretty much have no “way back” friends before our final tour of duty and his retirement. Moving every few years means I learned to really treasure the friends I have.

      • http://vagabondaesthetics.tumblr.com/ Ricky

        My reaction was more negative. I never felt like I was really a CLOSE friend to anyone because by the time I was in a small town in high school pretty much every had friends that they’d known already for near a decade. I could never really become anyone’s best friend when they’ve had several people in their life that they’ve known for pretty much their entire existence and knew their families for their entire existence. So I just socialized when necessary but mostly kept to myself and my books.

        • http://trulytafakari.com/ dtafakari

          Oh, I feel you on the negative reaction. I’m already an introvert…the worst thing moving did was yank me from friends right when I got acclimated (3-5 years). I lived in 4 states before the age of 5 (because of divorce, not Army). I felt rootless for a long time.

    • Lea Thrace

      My experience has been similar to yours. Except it wasnt due to a military connection. My parents were what I like to refer to as “foreign academic nomads.” We moved where the university teaching jobs were or where family was (sometimes we got both out of the move).I didn’t know what settled was until late middle school and even then I was always ready for a move. To this day, even as an adult, I have never completely unpacked in any place I have lived. I bought a house 6 years ago. Still not completely unpacked. There are clearly some unresolved childhood issues there. :-/

  • http://TheNewEve.com/ Bunni

    Bronx born and raised, 1st generation Boricua baby…my daddy came to NYC from Bayamon Puerto Rico when he was 18 and met my Puerto Rican/Venezuelan mama…they spent their early years being barefoot system fighting drug experimenting hippies, then they had my sister and I. My dad is a phenomenal artist, and I followed right in his footsteps…tho I lived in the hood, I was a homebody so I missed most of the “fun.” Went to the high school where my mom was a librarian, then off to a PWI on full scholarship. Since I’m the darkest complexion in my immediate family (my baby bro has blonde hair and green eyes so yeah….), I guess this is my black experience…..

  • John Shannon

    My Way of Being Black:
    2nd of 4 children, oldest son to divorces parents- a former drug addict (Mother) and a workaholic (Father); Mom’s parents from Va and WV, respectively, Dad’s from Alabama and Barbados (grandmother was a Caribbean immigrant). Both families have their dysfunctions- Middle Class (Mom’s) and the “typical” Black American problems- working class, drug users-dealers, cancer-prone, etc.
    I grew up not trusting anybody from age 4 to 18; been homeless, lived all over NE Ohio, was in public schools until 2nd grade then Catholic ones until 10th grade. Very little friends so Reading and Sports were my escape-until folks took the fun out of it and made them (soccer, basketball, track, football) the 1st Choice out of Financial Struggle. Never knew about Real Racism until 10th grade, didn’t know about the value of Virginity until I was 16 (lost mines at 13); joined a gang at 16, sold weed and X at 17; joined the workforce at 15; graduated HS with honors at 18 (2006) and was rewarded a 14-day trip to China for my efforts. Life caught up after I returned and long story short, I am Who I Am today.
    I Trust/Believe with a Chip on my shoulder, hold Grudges but Love Hard; I’m book and street-smart, a College Grad, a Father, Optimistic socially but a Cynic Personally. I am prone to Burn Bridges easier than Build Friendships, and I rather Go w/o than Put Faith in Folks that can’t Keep Promises, which in turn is why I Don’t Make-Keep them myself. I’m an Introvert and Agnostic, even with 8 yrs of Catholic school experience; a Moderate Democrat with certain things I’m Conservative about. and I love to Debate, not Argue per se

    • BreezyX2

      ” 2nd of 4 children, oldest son…” *rubs chin and counts on fingers, carries the one….*

      Wait…what?!?! I am trying to do the math but….ummmm…what?!?

      • ThatOne

        He’s the 2nd oldest child, but the oldest son in the family

        • BreezyX2

          Thanks for clearing that up.

        • John Shannon

          Thank you, reading is fundamental………..j/k

          • http://TheNewEve.com/ Bunni

            That still didnt clarify things….so are you like the oldest of your mom’s kids and the 2nd oldest of your dad’s kids? We need more information to solve this quadratic equation lol

            • http://trulytafakari.com/ dtafakari

              He might have a sister who’s the oldest, then he is the second child, but the first son in the family.

              I think.

              • http://TheNewEve.com/ Bunni

                AHHHHHH!!!!

                Dara for the win once again…..thanks for that :-)

                • http://trulytafakari.com/ dtafakari

                  I consider that my good deed for the day!

                  • http://TheNewEve.com/ Bunni

                    **prints out your boarding pass on the train to heaven**

              • John Shannon

                Thank you, you are the 2nd person that read it right.

                • http://trulytafakari.com/ dtafakari

                  Shoot, I think I understood it because it’s similar to how I describe my family.

                  I am my mother’s oldest child, but my father’s youngest child and his second daughter lol. Your family math is way easier than mine.

            • John Shannon

              Parent’s separated when I was born but officially divorced after my younger brothers were born (’96 and ’98); I have an older sister (27) but I’m the Oldest Son (26)

          • BreezyX2

            John, you can kiss the blackest part of my a@@….j/k

            • John Shannon

              Remind me to never crack a joke around you, humor doesn’t seem to be a strong point of yours

              • Tentpole

                It’s Friday. Critical thinking is reserved for Monday – Thursday. And you know how we are with math word problems

    • Andrea

      Thank you for sharing this!!!!