I dedicate this story to dearest Nini Mappo,
I was having a difficult time getting started with my first story. I saw your story because I followed you.
First, big congratulations on the award for speaking your truth about my country America, African Americans and how you feel for us. It is admired and appreciated.
I am an African American. To be specific, Caribbean via Grenada, British West Indies, 100 years ago. My birth certificate says "Negro", 1956.
I was born in NYC, and NOT with the right to vote. I had to grow into having the right to vote. My parents fought for it.
My father was a Tuskegee Airman. And My uncle is one of the handful still living today. (First Black Army Airforce WWII).
I was born into segregation in NYC. And I grew up during desegregation in Long Island, NY, the suburbs.
We moved to the suburbs in 1968. The second Black family to move into a White neighborhood.
Complete with cross burning on my cousin's lawn, because they were the first Black family.
And the former KKK headquarters was around the corner, a big plantation style house.
A few years later came the White Flight. Our neighborhood was redlined and our home became worth less than half the value of the purchase.
Meanwhile this was the 1970s and in my small town near the sea of the New York suburbs, there were plenty of race riots, police brutality and quiet segregation, because desegregation was a new project.
We attended Adelphi University Black Studies program learning Black History, African dance, Revolutionary poetry and visited the Black Panthers in Harlem.
Our Black pride was educated, directed, focused and nurtured. Angela Davis was my lookalike shero.
The biggest Afro hairdo was the most beautiful and we sported our cornrows, using lots of AfroSheen and African printed outfits. We were shocking!
We were bused from our cushy, middle class, neighborhoods to the upper class white high school that looked like a college campus.
And our brothers and sisters across the tracks in the projects were too. Yes we had economic Black segregation as well.
My sister and brother attended Ivy League schools and I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Later, Hip Hop, computers, weed, crack cocaine, jeri curls, polyester and the Rodney King beating took over the USA.
Fast way forward...working in NYC and 34 countries later I found myself needing to stay in the USA.
Why? Because I missed it! I also felt that something was about to happen.
I was in the Far East and Middle East during Desert Shield. I felt international disappointment toward America and Americans.
Luckily, no one could decide what I was and where I was from. Especially if I grasped a little local language and dressed properly.
Mask in the Far East because of pollution, and hijab in the Middle East out of respect.
I had to switch gears fast from far, international countries to local USA, Canada, Central and South America.
I moved to Los Angeles and switched to Fashion Merchandising with a design staff for private label mass merchants.
I was traveling the USA a lot, because God-Spirit told me to stay home, in my own country.
Then 9/11 happened.
No one around me understood the magnitude of what happened. I knew because I'm from NYC.
The World Trade Center roof was my refuge. And I watched it on TV completely disappear. Life changed forever.
I was glad to be where I was. Not overseas, not in NYC. Home was Los Angeles. Thank God. And thank God I listened.
For twenty years I worked, witnessed, and felt the stagnation, lack of interest, lack of awareness regarding my young people.
Like our children were stuck in a bubble. They were. Their heads were controlled and locked from screen to screen.
From sunrise to sunset. And hardly anyone cared about the other side of the world. Or their own world.
They only cared about and lived for LIKES.
Social media brought down countries and validated personalities. It was a new force to use and to be reckoned with.
Unfortunately so many events transpired that forced the creation of a woke generation. Black Lives Matter, lots of chants, demonstrations, catch phrases and cliches.
I said to myself, FINALLY!!! A new generation has finally awakened. I was wondering when or if it would happen at all. And it did.
The struggle was never new. The struggle started hundreds of years ago. But finally a new generation has claimed it, and given it ownership.
In my lifetime I saw my grandparents and parents do it. My generation did it. And finally the new/next generation is fighting the power.
And I could not be more proud. I am so proud of the children of my generation because they lifted their faces from the screens and said "enough". It is a cry or rather a scream for justice that is multi-racial, multi-gender and multi-cultural.
Systems are being called out like never before. Answers are being demanded like never before.
But all I ask is that you take the time to go beyond the noise.
Write law that is right. Uphold and protect it, for the next generations to come.
Big hugs to Nini Mappo, my sister for pulling this out of me. Love you baby girl! So happy you are WOKE! Amen.