|With Ventra Mapp and Mae Scott Kidd in Louisville, Ky. - 1980's (Photo by Kurk Johnson)|
Lately I've been contemplating my views on being African American. I recently found an old photograph of me and the late Kentucky Representative Mae Scott Kidd who once said, ""Most of us, whether white or black, are mixtures of many races and nationalities...Because I was neither completely white nor completely black, I've been stigmatized and penalized by both races." (From the book Passing for Black: The Life and Careers of Mae Street Kidd)
Kidd, however, was one of the legislators who successfully helped get the Thirteenth Amendment which abolished slavery ratified in Kentucky on March 18, 1976. She also served a number of charitable organizations focused on helping African Americans, including the Lincoln Foundation and the Louisville Urban League. Kidd was a graduate of Lincoln Institute, the only school in Kentucky where blacks could get a high school education before integration, and she helped disadvantaged youth.
Should I continue to identify with being Black? My hair still curls when it gets wet. My birth certificate states my mother and father were both Negro. I was brought up Black, raised on an HBCU, produced "Black" television shows, and write blog posts focusing on African Americans. My husband's birth certificate states one parent was Negro and the other was Colored. My husband's DNA analysis found his ancestors were from Europe, Mexico, Australia and Africa. He recently was baptized into the Greek Orthodox Church, an "eastern" religion. Is God's image Black or White?
Recently I had a yard sale, and none of my Black memorabilia sold. "It doesn't pay to be Black," said my brother-in-law recently when discussing my failing to earn a living from focusing on Black contributions to society. He suggested that I take up making balloon sculptures at kid's birthday parties because it would pay more than writing about black accomplishments.
This is really a political AND cultural question: Should race matter? Does it matter if I'm Black or White?