Too Short for a Blog Post, Too Long for a Tweet 109
Here are two excerpts from a book I recently read, "Negroland: A Memoir," by Margo Jefferson:
Once, maybe ten years ago, I told a lover, “Actually, I’m as white as I am black.” He’d picked up something of mine—a CD, a book—and said, teasingly, “Not a lot of black folk like Elly Ameling.” My retort still felt dangerous to say out loud, despite all the talk of hybridity, creolization, cosmopolitanism, and mulatto consciousness. “Sometimes I almost forget I’m a Negro,” my mother wrote seventy years ago. It wasn’t a disavowal; it was her claim to a free space. She was talking about her happiness at that moment—how you feel when everything inside and around you is where it belongs. How you feel when your rights in America are self-evident, not to be argued, justified, or brooded on every day.
We were Bronzeville girls until I was three and Denise six; then we moved to Park Manor. Bronzeville was the second biggest Negro city in America, and our grandmother owned two buildings there. We were living comfortably in one of them on a day in 1949 when history records that “the attempt by two black families to move into two houses in the South Side neighborhood of Park Manor produced a mob of 2000 whites chanting ‘We Want Fire, We Want Blood,’ while white policemen watched in silence.”* What else would White Policemen do? They were upholding twenty-five years of law and more than one hundred years of custom. They were protecting the property of their fellow officers who owned homes in Park Manor.
One evening several years later, when we have safely settled in Park Manor, a patrol car stops Daddy on his way home.
“What are you doing here?”
“I live here.”
“What’s in that black bag? Drugs?”
“I’m a doctor.”
Which the bag’s contents reveal he is. A pediatrician, luckily, not an anesthesiologist.