Tag Archive: blacks


The subject of the Confederate flag is one that’s full of controversy, and I don’t ordinarily expound on such topics, but there’s something I’ve always wondered: why does the battle flag of the losers of a war have such a hold on so many people?

What I’m going to say here won’t answer that question because I don’t know the answer.  I could speculate, but I won’t.  What I am going to do right now is to digress for a minute, just so I can tell you a little about myself.

I try to stay away from controversy because I’m not good at contending with it.  I tend to want to stay in my little niche, my own little corner of the world, and live my life as best I can.  I’m a “live and let live” kind of person.  My daughters sometimes accuse me of being a hermit, but I disagree with that particular assessment because I do, upon occasion, interact with other people.  I simply spend a lot of time by myself because of what I enjoy doing: my joy in life is writing.

I write because I can’t not do it so I guess you could say I am compelled to do it, and I’m black, so a lot of my characters are, also.  Having said that, I have to add that a lot of my characters are also white,  and some are other ethnicities.  After all, I live in a country made up of all sorts of folk so it would be kind of ridiculous to use only one brand of people in my writing. Then too, because I write fantasy and science fiction, some of my characters are silver, or some other color or shape altogether, because they’re not human.  Basically, my characters are whatever comes to my mind as I dream them up, and I’m an equal opportunity dreamer.

As I’ve said a few times to a few folk I know, “I ain’t deep.”  I’m not trying to influence anyone, or make them think, or change the world with what I write.  I leave that to the passionate people who feel that’s what they want to do, who feel that’s what they’re supposed to do, that have the temperament to get involved in that sort of thing.  All I try to do is tell a good story, and hope somebody reads it and is thereby entertained.

Okay.  I said all of that to say this: as a black woman who was born in the late forties, and grew up during the fifties and sixties, who lived through “Jim Crow” – segregated schools, buses, bathrooms, drinking fountains, restaurants, etc, and witnessed my share of racism and discrimination, I must say that the Confederate flag should, at long last, be permanently retired.

I don’t mean that it should be hidden away and forgotten, never to be seen or discussed again.  No, that’s not what should happen.  I heard a guy on TV say, in protest to the people that want to remove it from flying over the capital in South Carolina, that it is a part of Southern heritage, a part that shouldn’t be denied.

Yes, it is a part of the heritage of the South, all right, even of the United States of America’s since the South is a part of this country, and I’m not one to think heritage should be denied at all, but I wonder if he’s stopped to think about exactly what that heritage is.  He spoke as if he thinks that flag deserves a place of honor, as if it represents some sacred act that the South performed, something wonderful in the history of our country.

Now, I’m not a historian, and I was born eighty-two years after the end of the Civil War, so I only know the things I’ve heard about that era from stories told by the old folk in my family when I was a child, most of them second-hand from people whose parents or grandparents were slaves.  And of course, I learned things about that era in the history books at school (which tended to sort of white-wash it, so to speak, so I had to read between the lines and go reading on my own).  There was only one thing I learned that was really wonderful about the Civil War: the South didn’t win, which meant my parents weren’t born slaves and therefore, neither was I.

The man on the TV probably thinks the flag represents the fact that the South was fighting for state’s rights, and I suppose that technically, he’s right, but, the biggest right those states most wanted to retain was the one that allowed them to own other people.  They wanted to continue to do that, so they went to war.  I find nothing honorable about that.  The Confederate flag represents an era in the history of our country of which a big part was slavery and hate.  I’m sure he doesn’t think that’s what this flag is about, but it is.

Now, what a private citizen wants to do with the flag is his or her own business, but it should not be flying over public buildings – anywhere.  However, the flag shouldn’t be stuck somewhere and forgotten, either.

No, I think that the flag should be put in a museum, and displayed along with the manacles, the shackles, and the chains that represent some of the things the enslaved had to contend with.  The history of its place in the Civil War as a banner of encouragement for the folk who wanted to keep the manacles, shackles, and chains, should be written on a placard and placed in front of it so that it will show the exact heritage of that flag.

The image of it in all the history books should always contain the notation that it was the battle flag of the states that lost the war that they fought to retain people as slaves.

What this flag represents should never be forgotten.  Lest it be repeated.

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Ramblings on Being Profiled…

I’m sure that just about anyone who is black has had the experience of being followed around a department store while shopping, and/or being ignored when trying to find something or trying to get a price.  This has happened not only to males, but to females, too. Of course, nowadays, it doesn’t seem to happen as often as it did when I was a child.

I was a child during the nineteen fifties (back when we were “colored”), and sometimes my mother would take me with her when going out to shop or pay bills.  We were always watched when going into stores, and I remember the time we went out to pay utility bills one day (yeah, in those days we walked to do this because she had to pay in cash or money orders, and by the time she’d gotten to somewhere that sold money orders, she figured she might as well go the few extra blocks to the water department and power building.  Saved on those two or three cent stamps).  On the way back from taking care of those, we stopped at a dress shop where she had some clothes on lay-a-way, to make a payment. The year was about nineteen fifty-three and I was around six years old.

She made her payment at the service desk, grabbed my hand to leave the store, and we headed for the door. On the way, something caught her eye on a rack, and she paused for moment to look, then we continued on our way.  Or we tried to.

We’d gotten a few steps when we were accosted by a big, burly white man who, very roughly, asked my mother what had she put into her purse.  I’m sure that she was surprised by this but my mother, who was a very meek person, answered in her soft voice that she’d put nothing in her purse and she clasped my hand, tightly.

Well, this man didn’t believe her and refused to let us pass, demanding that she open her purse so he could check. He insisted he’d seen her take something off the rack and was extremely loud with his accusation.  By now, a female salesperson had walked up and was listening. This white lady, who’d seen my mother come into the shop for years, watched her go to the service desk numerous times to pay on her lay-a-ways, and knew my mother’s name, grabbed my mother’s purse and opened it up, of course finding nothing that shouldn’t have been there.

Since there was nothing in her purse that belonged to the store, the man insisted the woman take my mother to the dressing room and have her remove her clothing since “she must have stuck it under her dress”.  My mother went with the woman, but she was humiliated.  She was an honest, hardworking, church-going woman who taught her children not to steal, cheat, or lie, and tears began to roll down her cheeks. This frightened me as I’d never seen my mother cry, so I began to sniffle, and I tried to follow her but was not allowed.  She told me to wait and be quiet.  The man pulled me back and held me by gathering the material in the back of my dress and holding on to me that way (I guess he couldn’t hold my hand because the black might have come off and soiled his hand).

Of course, as my mother disappeared into the room with the woman, being the (dis)obedient child I was, I squirmed like crazy to get away from the man and began to bawl at the top of my lungs, which caused the man to curse and call me some very bad names (I didn’t know what his words meant at the time, but he was loud enough for my mother to hear, and though she told me later when I asked what they meant that they didn’t mean anything, years later when I was much older, I still remembered the words and knew what they meant).  Fortunately for me and my mother, all this noise attracted the attention of the foot cop who was passing by the shop at the time and he came in to see who was killing a kid.

There were no black policemen in my (southern) city at that time and, unless you were committing a crime (or construed as committing one), and you were black and a kid, you were generally ignored.  This cop, however, upon learning that I was screaming because I’d been separated from my mother who had been taken to another room to be searched, immediately demanded that the man turn me loose, and insisted my mother be brought back and released.  By then, the search was over anyway – with nothing having been found, of course. At least the cop was an honest and fair one.  As I recall, he had harsh words for the man (I never knew who he was; could have been some kind of security guard, I suppose, or maybe he owned the shop.  Don’t know) and the saleslady.  Needless to say, my mother never went into that shop again. I learned later that she sent my aunt in to get her things out of lay-a-way.  Back then, law-suit never entered most blacks’ heads so that was the end of it.

You might say that for the times and the place, what happened was not unusual since that was still in the days of Jim Crow.  Except, of course, at the time I did not understand. Took some time before I did and even then I never actually understood  until I was grown, and I never accepted it.  Over the years, I’ve been followed in stores, watched but ignored when it came to finding what I needed, and asked constantly if I “need help” with something, even after I’ve smiled and said “no” numerous times.  Now, I can’t say all of it is because I’m black, and truthfully, such incidents have become much less in recent years (or less obvious), but still, they happen.  Even to an old(er) black woman.

When I was raising my children during the seventies and eighties, it was still quite common to be tailed in a store when all you were doing was trying to find the aisle where they kept the socks so you could replace the tatty ones your kids’ toes ate.  Very annoying, but even then you just seethed and kept going.  Once, during the nineties, I went to buy a car and was ignored so badly, I left and went somewhere else.  Guess I didn’t look as if I could afford one to those particular people, though why the heck else would I be standing in a dealer’s showroom looking at sticker prices?  Must admit that particular one hasn’t happened again.

Still, during the nineties,  I did have to leave a computer store when I went shopping for my first desk-top, due to a lack of interest in my questions – and, apparently, my money.  I had finally gotten the reluctant attention of one of the numerous salesmen on the floor when a (white) guy walked up and the salesman immediately dropped me like a hot rock to go wait on him.   Bought one somewhere else where they didn’t seem to mind my color, answered all my questions and didn’t leave me to go wait on someone else.   They seemed to like me and ever after that, would always help me with questions or buying computer accessories when I went back.  Or, it could have been the fifteen hundred dollars I left with them in exchange for the computer.   But they were nice and helpful.  At any rate, haven’t had that kind of problem since, either.

When he was a teenager, my son got a job and bought a car.  Nothing fancy, a Ford Escort, but he got stopped by cops with great regularity and asked to assume the position while they searched him and his car and any male passengers he had with him when all he’d been doing was driving down the street at the correct speed.  The explanation was that there was some thugs going around committing crimes who had a preference for that type of car, so every black male seen driving one was pulled over. There was no explanation of why he got pulled over when driving my car which was not a Ford Escort.

Since I wore my hair very short at that time (as I’ve recently gone back to doing), I was even pulled over a few time while driving his car, though once I was seen to be an older black female, they never asked me to lie down in the street with my arms and legs spread or searched the car.  And, my daughter, who’d bought a Mustang, got pulled over, too, for no obvious reason that we were ever able to see.

I warned my son – and his cousins who rode with him from time to time – to always be cooperative so as not to get shot.  Warned my daughters, too, just in case.  In fact, I gave them all kinds of what might be taken to be odd warnings, to try to keep them safe, such as certain clothing not to wear, cultivating a neutral but pleasant expression, not getting into an elevator alone with a white person especially a female (that one was mostly for my son), and various other such items.   Sad that I had to do that but I didn’t want them in jail for no reason – or dead.  After all, I couldn’t tell them not to be black.

It’s a pity that even now, you have to be careful if walking, driving, shopping, or doing just about anything, while black.  But I am not surprised.

The second book in my Boucher’s World series will be out soon.  I’m aiming for somewhere between June 1st and 15th.  I’m working fast to make that date!

Coming soon!

Coming soon!

In the meantime, the first book in the series, Boucher’s World: Emergent is available atSmashwordsAmazon (where you can also get the paperback, but that costs more so you may want to stick with the ebook), B&NKoboDiesel, Apple (view in iTunes to buy), Sony, and Versant.   Reviews at any of those sites are welcome.  So are comments.
Synopsis: In the year 2347, the people of Earth sent colonists to an uninhabited planet discovered the century before in the star system of Epsilon Eridani.
As it turned out, the world was inhabited; by a race of gentle giants with certain psychic abilities, called Elvwists.  Since the humans couldn’t go back, they had no choice but to come to an agreement with the Elvwists, who fortunately were an amicable race of beings.
A year after their arrival, one day they awakened to discover themselves surrounded by an impenetrable, transparent Dome.  This caused a huge disruption in the societies of both races, with the Elvwists eventually withdrawing behind force shields for their own safety and the humans degenerating into savagery.
Two thousand years later, a way out was finally discovered by a young woman, and the descendants of both races, having reconciled a thousand years before when the humans suddenly developed psychic abilities of their own, emerged from the Dome together.
Boucher’s World: Emergent is the chronicle of how the exit was found, what happens when they leave the Dome, and how some unfortunate things about some humans have not changed in two thousand years.

Mom

From time to time, thoughts of my mother gather in my head.

Mom. Sitting here thinking of her, gone now for over eighteen years. Yet, I still see her in my mind’s eye, as though she were sitting right across the table from me, huddled in her fuzzy burgundy robe, sipping on a hot cup of herbal tea.

She came to live with me when she was seventy-eight, after my son left home leaving me with an extra bedroom. The first time I saw her all bundled up in that housecoat, with leg-warmers on, and a knit cap, I was aghast.

“Mom,” I exclaimed, “Are you cold?”

“Not anymore,” she replied, smiling.

Well, after I got through laughing, I turned the thermostat up a bit. I couldn’t see freezing my poor old mom just to save a few pennies by keeping the heat turned down low.

She was eighty-six years old the year she died, and a lot of those were hard years. I don’t know, or remember from her stories, the whole tale of her life, but she was born in nineteen hundred and eight, delivered by a mid-wife, as probably most folks were at that time. Or, at least in the south, if they were poor.

Her mother died when she was a year old, and her father placed her, and her brother and two sisters in the care of his sister and her husband. Just as her parents were, they were share-croppers, so the work was hard. Somewhere in there, along about the time she was three or so, her father died, too, leaving them total orphans.

She wanted to be a teacher but she never got further than the seventh grade. At the time she completed that grade, there was no public high school for blacks – or as we were (politely) called then, “coloreds” – available for her to attend in the area, and her family was too poor to send her off somewhere to a private one. And anyway, from what she said, they didn’t much value higher education for girls, so she probably wouldn’t have been educated even if it could have been afforded.

So at around the age of twelve or thirteen, she got married. Too late for her, a few years after that, a high school for blacks was built in Charlotte, the city near where she lived. Soon after marrying, she gave birth to a baby boy who died at around six months old, and the marriage didn’t last long after that.

She married again and had more children but she never forgot her first child, David. She had no means to get photographs taken of him, she was much too poor, but she always said she remembered his little face, how he felt in her arms, the sound of his voice. He was born sometime in the nineteen-twenties and died of pneumonia, while lying on her lap. She knew he was dying, so all she could do was pray for his soul. One can only imagine how frightened she was when, years later, her youngest child – me – became ill at the age of two with the same disease. By then, it was nineteen forty-nine and penicillin was widely available, so: I’m still here.

Neither I, nor my sister or brothers, will ever forget that we had a brother we never got to meet. But, because of our mother, we did know him, and we have never forgotten him.

And that is just one story from the life of my mother.

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