1950: When America Was Great



Last night, while my cousin and I were watching “Roots” with my aunt, she explained to us how sharecropping was nothing more than slavery lite. She, my dad and their 12 other sisters and brothers were raised on a plantation in Omaha, Georgia, where my grandfather worked as a sharecropper. They farmed cotton and peanuts, and she told us how every season, after the crop was sold and it came time for my grandparents to “settle up” with the landlord for all the provisions they used throughout the year, they’d always be in debt. Always owe money for the work they did, because he owned the plantation store, set the prices and kept the books.

Then she showed us this bill of sale from 1950, where their landlord took every single thing they owned, in order to settle their debt. They had no crops, no cows, no mules and no hogs, which left them completely dependent upon him the following year. And when the next crop didn’t bring in enough to cover all those new expenses (because, somehow, it never did), he tacked on that debt to the next season, and the next…

This was 1950. Slavery had been outlawed nearly 100 years earlier, but my grandparents were no less tethered to that plantation than their great-grandparents..

So when folks ask, “Why can’t black people just…?”

This is why. It’s why we’re distrustful, why the achievement gap, why the wealth divide, why I wish a ************ would come at me with that, “Slavery ended 150 years ago; why don’t you just get over it?” Winning in life when you had a 330-year head start, is no achievement. But winning in spite of this is a huge source of pride for me. Ten of my grandparents’ fourteen children graduated college. They went on to own homes, raise healthy families, have great careers, run their own businesses. Imagine what they, and countless others, could have achieved if they playing field had been equal from the start—if it had ever been equal.



I don’t know why the name of this bank bothers me so much, but for years, whenever I’m in the Midwest and see it, I wanna scream,? “REDUCE THE FRACTION!!!” It should be 1 2/3 bank.* Per Wikipedia:

“Fifth Third’s unusual name is the result of the June 1, 1908, merger of Third National Bank and Fifth National Bank, to become the Fifth-Third National Bank of Cincinnati (the hyphen was later dropped).”

Well, you know what? That’s dumb. My friend Hanna said that, since it was a merger, they should have just called it Eighth Bank. Because: addition. I guess we should just be glad they didn’t call it 3/5 Bank. Because: slavery.

I bet the Third National Bank people fought to have their name first, though. I bet they were all, “We were two national banks ahead of you! Our name should go first!!!” I wonder how close they came to that catastrophe. I’m willing to bet they had all the stationery printed, bought the domain name (yes, in 1908)… and then a dude named Earl came in like, Aww naw! Hell naw, man!” **

I know nothing about the quality of services they provide, but I hate this bank.

*actual neuroses, not a joke.
*joke, not an indication of actual wiilingness to bet

In de face, Stonewall Jackson

The venue I was working at last nite in Harrisonburg, VA put me up in the Robert E. Lee room at the Stonewall Jackson Bed & Breakfast. And I didn’t have to make the beds OR breakfast. Cause I’m free.

In de face, Stonewall!

The folks there were great and the place was super cute (see pics above). So cute, in fact, that I was willing to forgive the irony of management putting two Black comics up at the Stonewall Jackson Inn during Black History Month… But seriously folks, the whole time I was at the B&B all I could think was: This is why we celebrate Black History Month — to honor the people who fought and died to make it possible for me to be able to stay there and NOT be a servant. Because, real talk: he and his family probably owned mine (Jackson: Jackson). Sidebar, I’m not entirely sure I even know why I included that photo of me pretending to be asleep. But I guess maybe if old Stonewall is looking up at this from wherever he is now, he’d get a kick out of me napping at his crib.
YES!!! In de face!