Me don’t dip on nobody’s side. Me don’t dip on the black man’s side,
not the white man’s side. Me dip on God’s side,
the one that create me cause me to come from Black & White
– Bob Marley
with Losing Faith
THE INVISIBLE PERCEPTION OF BLACK
by Kendall F. Person
I was born a Negro, the description on my birth certificate under race, but never attached myself to the term, for when I was old enough to discover the plague of my nation – Race or Color – the Black Power revolution had overthrown the more antiquated Negro, as Black was how I would identify me, as would my nation. My nuclear family lived in the diverse, but majority Black Montbello section of Denver Colorado, the largest and most spectacular city within the natural majesty of the Rocky Mountains. I was young, but I do not ever remember the need to wear or run from my color, it just was.
In the late 70s, my Mother, tiring of shoveling snow and no longer wanting to be a hometown girl, headed west with her brood, landing in the Sacramento suburb: Citrus Heights, by happenstance. Measured only by my elementary (6 Black children, 4 of which were of my Mother’s lineage), its demographic was perhaps more than 95% white. But even though we were reminded nearly every day, that we were Black – shouts of nigger reigning down, my parents scrubbing eggs off the fence and refilling the air in our car tires, morning rituals, at times – I excelled and experienced the same true friendships as everyone else.
Although my high school, Grant Union in the Del Paso Heights section of Sacramento proper, was majority Black, but a powerhouse football program and a perception from areas outside of us – of heathens and thugs – bonds between races were normal and natural. But Black defined me on nearly every government document.
Ironic to the unfamiliar, but not to those who know, the University bubble is a very special one, but also where a division of the races becomes prominent. Black Family Day was when black families visited the campus and Picnic Day was ‘reserved for whites, at the University of California Davis, where I received my education. Not a law or even an unwritten rule, it was just the way it felt. But the education, the experience, the bubble was one of the most cherished times in my life, so even the very visible card of race was a non-threatening one, The movement from Black to African American arose during those collegiate years. However, the close friends and fraternity brothers that made up my world, stayed ‘Black’ and even now, mostly used in more formal settings, I do not commonly identify with the accepted and widely used term: African American, Black had become my identity.
The color black in science is pigmentation. In evolution it is determined by a very long lineage of where blood lines are derived. In my belief of God, Black is He, as is white and brown and all other shades of the human species. Up and down, round and round as the years passed and life went on, the degree of Black being the most prominent definition of self waned, but never did the perception of others, who only knew me, then judged me by the Blackness of my skin, enter into the equation of how I saw me or interfere in the pursuit of happy. And never once, during or upon my crash landing, addiction wiped away my smile, did I contribute the weight of being Black in America as the cause of my collapse. But this is my story, as ultimately, we are individuals (who invented ways to segregate ourselves).
All-inclusive, The Neighborhood belongs to everyone and the diaspora of artists, and topics and neighbors, visitors & guests, derived from a natural growth. An online educational and entertainment destination, where a white man who only listened to country music and a black woman, only in touch with R&B, have relaxed and perhaps erased built-in perceptions of the non familiar. Shows here are driven by a collaborative of artists, allowing for a hip hop song to cover a post on North Korea and a folk song from Ireland, to soundtrack a show of Black identity, enriching everyone with everyone.
And that identity, embedded through my bloodlines, my surroundings and the ever present race dance, one of the most enduring of my land, compels me to speak openly and more often on the topic. The bond built with all artists and respect of all who visit, is of the greatest importance, but my reach into the lives of young black men is paramount, as their image has traditionally taken a beating, and who some believe cannot be reached (based on perceptions of which those who hold them, may not even know the source); and of slightly equal measures, a projection of self, that cannot be blamed on anyone but oneself.
To have this platform, that is embraced by a vast cross section of people, to not utilize it to advance aged old thoughts, and instill a Think Big mentality to those who do not understand they have it, would be an opportunity lost and forever a question mark of myself could I have done more to contribute to humanity and a legacy of my existence
– The Neighborhood
The 2017 City of the Year,
will be determined by the city that finds a way.