Pop Culture, Race & Politics

Break On Through: Understand Where I’m Coming From?

So I’m black.

(Don’t you love when I open up with that line? It’s like a precursor to some race based observation on something race-related. Like NASCAR. Thank you.)

I had the privilege of growing up in very different circumstances. For instance, during my early years, I was raised by my white mother (as my father, though around, was in another country preparing me for a new family), in a black populated area. Some might call them projects, I choose to call them very low-to-no income housing.

What transpired can only be called a social experiment in whether or not white people can truly raise black kids. While my other black peers were listening to Michael Jackson and Prince, I was listening to Michael Jackson and AC/DC. Or ZZ Top. Or Ratt. Or my personal favorite, Judas Priest.

And you couldn’t tell me nothing about Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath. I was diehard.

At 5.

At age 6, my younger sister and I, heavy metal and motorcycle boots in tow, left my mother’s care in Michigan and moved in with my father in Germany. So you can imagine the culture clash that was little Panama and his new soon-to-be sisters and mother. Have a look see.

Panama’s New Sister-To-Be: I just got that new Janet Jackson!! Controoooooooool!

Porno for Pyro’s Panama: Umm…do you have any Judas Priest? I really like Judas Priest. Or maybe some Ratt.

Panama’s NSTB: What is Judas Priest?!?!!!! Mommy, this new boy that you all brought home just curseded!

(Actually, my sister couldn’t speak English very well at that point since she was going to German school. Little known Panama fact, I taught one of my sisters how to read in English. At age 7. )

PP Panama: *two fingers in the air in Satan/Texas Longhorn salute* Rock on!!!!!

Now this was all a social experiment because my mother’s musical tastes became mine. Kind of like how Kanye said he was very feminine and gay acting in high school because he was raised with his mother. Except not even remotely similar.

With my mother’s musical tastes, I often became the kid that folks didn’t understand. Buying toy bats (of the flying variety) and trying to bite their heads off a la Ozzy will do that to you. However, over time I gained my parents appreciation for “black” music. I started getting into Alexander O’Neal, Michael Jackson (even more), Prince, and of course all the old school soul music my parents had stored up in their record collection. Talk about confusion. It got even worse in middle school. I’d go from listening to Guns ‘N Roses to the Geto Boys in about 3 seconds flat. Skid Row?? Def Leppard?

Homey, pour some sugar on me.

So where is all of this going? Well its going here. My mother’s influence on my early musical tastes have helped me TREMENDOUSLY in life. It allowed me to be way more open-minded in my music than a lot of folks I knew growing up. I’d be rocking my Green Day albums while my friends in high school thought I was listening to that “white music” too much.

Dude, they had an album called Dookie. I was like 13. Who couldn’t get behind that?

And it’s amazing that at this point in my life the vast array of music I listen too. I’ll go from listening to the Blackbyrds to listening to the Doors (as I’m doing right now…I think the classic rock song “Light My Fire” might be one of my new favorite songs of all time). I have thousands of CD’s at this point (on last count) and you’ll find some of the strangest shit ever in that mix. Hell I still purchase music.

I have all of my old school music segregated since I like to consider those albums the gems of my collection. But mixed in with those are my Guns ‘N Roses Appetite for Destruction album, my Doors albums, my Rolling Stones and Beatles albums, though I seriously think the Beatles are WAY overrated.

Yeah I said it!! I’m a gangsta. And I hate Jim Jones.

I often wonder why we, as black folks, are so quick to dismiss rock music (or any other type of music not done by black folks), especially since about 90 percent of the early rock music is just blues music being sung by white boys. Granted, the music was taken and given life by the new white audiences who couldn’t care about the black originators, but alas, if it’s good it’s good. And how many people REALLY don’t listen to rock because of the racism behind it? Not very many. Most folks don’t because it’s “that white sh*t.” Hell, I used to hate on country music. HARD. That was until I started listening to Johnny Cash. Now I’m hooked. And if you don’t think Johnny is country, then I listen to Kris Kristofferson too. The Highwaymen rocked.

I don’t know how people listen to solely rap or R&B all day long. It would truly drive me nuts. Especially with all the great jazz out there. Speaking of jazz and obscure R&B, it wasn’t until college and I met one of my boys who probably introduced me to more jazz and 70′s era soul music than you can shake an old cat at, that I even got into jazz. This dude’s knowledge and catalog is extensive but I was open to learning. Now I’m like niggas with Independence Airline tickets…on a whole nother plane.

Get it? Cuz they shut down…


Aww go to hell.

Anyway, I know how I got to how I am; how’d you get to where you are?

Put a little love in your heart.


Filed Under:
Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • editgirl

    Why did you go from living with your mother to living with your father at the age of 5?

  • That Ugly Kid

    Most of it came from my older sister. The rest was influenced by my older cousin. My sister is 13 years older than me and she is a diehard 2Pac fan. That’s all she would listen to and since I was always trying to hang around her, that’s all I ended up listening to as well. Even though I was ages 4-6 during this time (I was born in 1990) I still understood every single thing Pac rapped about. Never liked Biggie though. I mean, he’s decent but…meh, I can name about 15 rappers better than him. Later on around the age of 7-8, she introduced me to Eminem, imo, the greatest rapper ever. My first Eminem experience was “Forgot About Dre”. Been a huge fan ever since.

    My cousin is 4 years older than me. He’s the one who introduced me to Lil Wayne back during the Cash Money/Hot Boyz days. We used to record all of their music videos on VHS. My cousin also put me on R&B, my first taste being Ginuwine. And yes, I know how that sounded. So. What.

  • A. Marie

    @Panama I want to know more about your life. At what point did you move back to the states? Did you still have a lot of contact with your mom? You have an interesting story. Please write about it more.


  • “(as I’m doing right now…I think the classic rock song “Light My Fire” might be one of my new favorite songs of all time”

    Yes! I actually first fell for The Doors in my senior year of high school. I took this film class and my teacher used to play the opening scene from “Apocalypse Now” OVER AND OVER (I didn’t mind because it’s a dope scene… one of my faves) and we’d dissect it til the cows came home (did a feminist create this saying? Because it presupposes that the cows work while the bulls are househusbands. Dope.), studying the cinematography, juxtapositions, all’at jazz.

    Anyway, the theme of that opening montage was “The End” by The Doors. And I’m talking the whole song. When I first heard it, I was entranced by the trippiness… the mind-bending aura of the song. Hell, it made me wanna tweak and I hadn’t dabbled in nann drug nor had the desire to.

    All that to say I loved (and still love) the song.

    So. Light My Fire. What’s funny is that a movie got me recently loving that too. Recently being a few months ago. It was actually the biopic, “The Doors.” with Val Kilmer. Good movie, btw. And yes, it’s just as trippy as the band itself.

    Anyway I had to section that part off because I love me some Doors. Hell, I wrote my very own opening scene (it’s um… disturbing lol) from listening to “The End”… I’d even say it inspired it. LOL

    In summary: 2520 music is cool. Music is cool. Because music is music.

  • imaninia

    I listen to everything! absolutely everything. and I’m so glad that I do. I love rock music, and I love R&B. Today, I went from listening to Melanie Fiona to Killswitch Engage (screamo), then to old school Britney Spears, then Hit ’em up….in that order. lol

  • socialchronic

    (sings) ** doooo you have the tiiiime… to listen to me whiiiineee, about nothing and everything alll attt onnceee*** Green day was my ish. I had that dookie CD blaring out my windows at like 13 IN THE HOOD.

    I have no idea how and why i have the musical tastes that i do. I could say it was all the programs and shit i was in growing up. I went to schools that were about half and half on the white black spectrum, but everything after school was usually allllllll white with the exception of the suburban kids who thought they were white. You know those one kids. The boy usually never had a hair cut and the girl would try to pull her hair back in a ponytail like the rest of the cheerleaders, desperately needing a perm. I was only cool with a few of those kids. I was still a little ghetto-ish

    But as a kid I did use to buy all sorts of records from like the bin with all the 45’s at family dollar. i would beg my mom or dad to cop em and at some point i came to the conclusion that all music is good to someone. I’ve kept that mentality since. You should see my spotify list or itunes. It’s hella all over the place. I would go crazy listening to one genre as well, although it does seem like the kids today are starting to mash up the musical tastes a bit.

    I hardly ever post but that one got me. It was the green day reference

  • pe.riche.

    I have to say that music was the same sort of gateway for me as well.

    For 10 years (since I was in middle school), I trained as a classical vocalist. I lived opera and tried my hardest to be like the legends (denise graves, kathleen battle, maria callas, ect.) The work was arduous, costly, and time consuming, but I am so grateful that my mom never crushed my goals.

    While other members in my family questioned my pursuits, my mom created an enviornment for me to relish in them. And while I would get lonely being the only brown girl from time to time, I will never forget the opportunities and the diligence classical music awarded me.

  • jammy jams you are half white?! ——–>what is this world coming too!!!!!!!!! Oh mi goshhhhh! I swear, to the heavens and back, I would NEVER have guessed this. Your allegiance to everything black and gansta was what made me come to this conclusion. I am currently nursing my head, for I fell down and hit my head and lost it after reading of your whiteness!

    I’m still trying to figure out how I got to where I am. What the heck are you asking?! Sometimes, I don’t understand you…..

    Do you speak German?! By the way lemme just say that your avi with you blowing smoke, is incredibly segggzy. And no, I am not interested in him I’m just complimenting!(you know who you are!)

  • Petitekayee

    Nah, Panama. But HOW are the Beatles overrated? I had to stop reading because my mind stopped reasoning. I’m not just asking because there is literally a Beatles’ song for every moment of life, but because I believe they are rated right where they should be; as one of the most influential groups of all time. ALL TIME.

  • What will it take for me to not be moderated?! I changed my name just so that I ain’t enslaved, and of course, the grand massah wasn’t playing dat! URRRRRGH!!!!!!!!!!

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