My Dear Cousin …

I loss a first cousin a week ago and it really hurts.  Gina was younger than me and she was a soft quiet person but I have seen her riled.  I loved my cousin she is part of my childhood memory. You know your young memories are the ones you cherish.   One of my favor aunts is her mother.  My mother has four sisters and Gina’s mom is the baby girl.  I was born and grew up in my grandparents’ home until around 10 or 11 years old.  I remember my youngest aunt and youngest uncle who were still in the home for little while.  Gina was Aunt Kat’s second child.  I have known her all her life.

Recently, Gina was part of the 2016 Family Reunion.  We worked on the reunion a year and half before the reunion. So, I got to know her well.  She was faithful to our meetings. A couple of times she showed up a week early. Smile.  She was a silent wonder.  You look at Gina and realize she got a nice figure and her clothes fit her perfectly. In the past we would commiserate the spoiled uncle/dad.

You see, my Uncle likes to be waited on.  There is nothing wrong with that thinking 50 years ago and that’s what he is use to, being cared for by warm loving wife, my aunt.  And Gina and I are of a different generation mindset.  And, we would laugh about her dad going to cook when he retires.  And sure enough, her dad/my uncle started making breakfast.  Gina, I’m going to miss you and think about you daily.  You are in my heart.

Maybe I wouldn’t have taken Gina’s death so hard if I had not been anticipating my cousin Pauline’s birthday.  October 18th is the first birthday since her death.  Pauline and I hung out since I was 16 years old. She was a year older.   We were cousins on my grandmother’s side and we were also good friends.  Years ago, I broke my leg the day of her 50th birthday party and couldn’t go.  Pauline liked a good party and I was very disappointed I couldn’t go.

In January 2019, we loss Pauline to cancer.   Pauline was a warrior she had heart disease where she needed a mechanical heart, breast cancer and then cancer again.  She told me they sent her home on hospices care.  Very sad time.  Then the day after Pauline’s birthday I get a call that Gina died.  How? When?  Oh no!

 

Rest with God Gina.  I love you!

Southern Charm and Slavery

I’m into reality shows.  I’m watching Bravo‘s reality show Southern Charm.  Southern Charm is in its 6th season.  I watched it when I was on cable and then there were a few years where I chose another option, firestick.  Then I discovered Sling where I can watch certain cable stations.  I had no clue as to why I was attracted to this show about rich Charleston, SC white folks.

First,  I should state at the tender age of 17 years old my future husband was stationed in Beaufort, SC  and I visited him there and then lived there few months until my escape.  He was military and was gone a lot.  I was alone and felt unsafe where we lived.  I could barely interact with the locals because I could not understand what they were saying.  I listened very hard and just couldn’t understand.  So, I avoided the locals but didn’t stop me from hearing about their tales of black folks coming through the swamps of Florida into South Carolina to get numbers to play.  This was before “lottery” systems.  We moved to an off base housing for military families.  I was shocked at the outward racism even among the military families.  My neighbor was from Kentucky and let it be known in every way that she was racist.  I was not use to the blatant racism of the south.  40 years later I discovered a different Beaufort, SC and a different local community.

The coastal area of South Carolina and Georgia, including sea islands, is known as the low country.  A segment of African Americans who come from this area are called Gullah and speak a language of west African and English that forms a Creole dialect known as Geechee.  How did this happen?

Historically, around 1700, white plantation owners from the low country preferred to imported slaves from the western Africa coast area of Senegal down to Sierra Leone and Liberia where they are known for growing rice. Rice was grown in low country.  Africans from this part of Africa knew how to plant, harvest, and process rice.  The story goes that the plantation owners avoided getting sick and death by an unknown cause by leaving the area and letting the slaves run the rice plantations.  Therefore, the African slaves had the freedom to practice their African traditions and the creation of their creole dialect. The Gullah people are direct descendants of those slaves.  Back to Southern Charm.  What does Southern Charm reality show have to do with Gullah?

Well, I started wondering where these Charleston, SC crew got their wealth.  The program creator, Whitney Sudler-Smith, is a character himself.  Whitney is well educated a classically trained guitarist, film maker and television director. His mother Pat Altschul is rich social-lite who spills words of wisdom and advice to the young cast.  And, there are those on the show that boast their ancestors were there in the 1600’s. For example, a new reality member is Eliza Limehouse, 9th generation from Charleston.  Eliza’s mother can trace her ancestors to the Mayflower and on her father’s side, Thomas Limehouse signed the Declaration of Charleston.

In addition, we have Thomas Ravenel who has a rich history of politics and being a southern scoundrel.  Thomas was Southern Charm’s big star a few years ago.  He ran for senator, he was state treasurer until scandal abruptly ended his term. Thomas’ on again off again relationship with young (26yrs old) Kathryn Dennis that produced 2 children was big story line.  Unfortunately, these days there’s a battle over the custody of the small children.  Especially, since Thomas, who has full custody due to Kathryn’s bad behavior, has been accused of sexual assault by the nanny.  Thomas was fired from the show.  And, Kathryn is rebuilding her life again.  There are fun cast members like Shepherd (Shep) Rose, Chelsea Meissner and Austen Kroll.   Anyway, I find it absolutely unbelievable that their view of the area is so different from mine.

Reality shows send the cast on vacae to wonderful places. I saw the episode where the Southern Charm crew went to Daufskie Island, Sc.  They went horseback riding on the beach and golfing and just had a wonderful time while there.  I had a totally different view.  Hmmm, I guess that’s called a white view and a Black view.

I went to Daufskie Island in 2010 and was in love with the place’s rich slave history, culture rich setting and island living.  The slave grave yard was on the beach.  If you died in good standing you were buried facing Africa but if you died wrong you were facing Brazil.  As a tourist, I looked for shells on the beach and put my feet in the ocean.  Hilton Head was the departure spot so coming back to Hilton Head we had dinner and the hush puppies and blue crab soup was to die for.

Anyway, I suddenly realized I could be looking at the monetary results of slavery.    These people are proud and boastful of their families’ generational ties to the area.  When you date back to a time of slavery with your plantation home still standing then you probably reaped the benefits of slavery.  And, there are no Blacks in this show which is not unusual since they seem to group these reality shows by race.  I guess that’s why they are known as reality shows because diversity in everyday life may only happen in education institutes or corporate entities.

 

Middle School Graduation 2019

I have a middle school-er who will be graduating into high school this June.  But at the moment the most important event is the graduation.  Its made into such a big deal that I barely recognize 8th grade.  Only 5 guest for graduation ceremony.  Who do you leave out.  Does this mean her siblings are invited but both grandparents are not.  Wow.

Well, in reality I would like to give honor and praise to middle school teachers.  These teachers are awesome.  They are getting our shining stars ready for high school and beyond.  Kudos to you who are middle school teachers.

This is a direct quote from a Blogger I follow, Panama Jackson.  He is discussing his experience as a speaker at a middle school where he spoke to 8th and 7th graders and then 6th graders.
As I sat there attempting to talk about being a writer while a class of 27 children looked at me, while yelling amongst themselves like they would have been excited to see me run over by a truck, I thought to myself, there is no way in hell I would sign up to do this job. The people who do it have a level of patience I could never unlock. And I’m not even trying to find that key. I walked out of that building thinking to myself: Freedom!

If you are a middle school teacher, don’t ever let anybody say you aren’t taking one for the team. You’re a saint.

Tupac and I care even if no one else does.

Slow clap for you because you, middle school teacher, are a saint.

~Panama Jackson