ThePeopleinMe-1 - The People in Me By Robin D.G. Kelley So,...

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The People in Me By Robin D.G. Kelley “So, what are you?” I don’t know how many times people have asked me that. “Are you Puerto Rican? Dominican? Indian or something? You must be mixed.” My stock answer has rarely changed: “My mom is from Jamaica but grew up in New York, and my father was from North Carolina but grew up in Boston. Both Black.” My family has lived with “the question” for as long as I can remember. We are “exotics,” all cursed with “good hair” and strange accents—we don’t sound like we from da Souf or the Norwth, and don’t have that West Coast-by-way-of Texas Calabama thang going on. The only one with the real West Indian singsong vibe is my grandmother, who looks even more East Indian than my sisters. Whatever Jamaican patois my mother possessed was pummeled out of her by cruel preteens who never had sensitivity seminars in diversity. The result for us was a nondescript way of talking, walking, and being that made us not black enough, not white enough—just a bunch of not-quite-nappy-headed enigmas. My mother never fit the “black momma” media image. A beautiful, demure, light brown woman, she didn’t drink, smoke, curse, or say things like “Lawd Jesus” or “hallelujah,” nor did she cook chitlins or gumbo. A vegetarian, she played the harmonium (a foot-pumped miniature organ), spoke softly with textbook diction, meditated, followed the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, and had wild hair like Chaka Khan. She burned incense in our tiny Harlem apartment, sometimes walked the streets barefoot, and,
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This note was uploaded on 04/19/2011 for the course ENG 325 taught by Professor Hara,m during the Fall '08 term at University of Hawaii, Manoa.

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ThePeopleinMe-1 - The People in Me By Robin D.G. Kelley So,...

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