"There are notes between notes, you know." -- Sarah Vaughan

Monday, March 21, 2011

"Uncle Tom" and "Field Negro"

I was responding to this post over on TiffanyInHouston's blog, which was a response to OneChele's weekend post about the Grant Hill/Jalen Rose fracas when I realized I was about to blog in her comments so I just brought my response over here where I can stretch out.

Among my mother's siblings there were issues between the oldest three children -- who were all born in the 1940s, went to college, did well and have a serious work ethic -- and the youngest three children who were teens during the early 70s and got into a lot of ish (recreational drugs, partying etc.) instead of going to school and preparing for life.

The younger three do alright now but for years -- even as a kid -- I could tell there was some jealousy especially regarding my mother's oldest brother who is a successful small business owner. He is generous when he wants to be but NEVER comes up out the pocket for people who try to act like he owes them something just for living, which would irritate the youngest three because they had some entitlement issues.

Even now they taunt my mother (she's the youngest of the oldest three) about being a teacher and "having all those degrees." My mother is the only one with a post-graduate degree.

But then, my Grandma (love her but she is messy as hell) treated them differently, too, which is prolly why I think of them as the oldest three and youngest three. She is/was more loving and permissive with the younger three kids and is/was really hard on the oldest three. Even today the younger three can do no wrong, meanwhile my mama, aunt and uncle (the oldest three) who all have stepped up and sacrificed to take care of her (trading off staying with her every night and taking her to doc appts etc) so she can stay in her house and not go to a nursing home have to listen to a lot of complaints, criticism and insults.

Then on my father's side my Granny (love her, still miss her, sigh) didn't like my mom for my father because she was darkish (Granny was definitely color struck) and she didn't think my mom's family was bougie enough. My Granny was VERY much about who your family is (she would always ask "who are their people?"), whether they were educated etc. A few members of her family played a large role in some civil rights era stuff and even received a posthumous award from the president, so my little working class, bootstrappy mama's family was not good enough for her.

That said, they ALL LOVE and take care of me.

Now, among my cousins I don't feel much envy, but most are doing well, though some have taken less of the traditional route that I've taken.

The only person I've felt any kind of class/race animosity from is one of my Grandma's sisters. She lived in D.C. until a couple of years ago and when I had my housewarming I invited her because, hey, she was my great-aunt.

Well, she was SHOCKED to say the least that white people were IN MY HOUSE, touching stuff and eating. And from that moment on she has made many snide remarks about it -- "I know SingLikeSassy won't come cause she's prolly sitting up with those white people." Or, "I'm surprised you aint with your white people today." Ignant stuff like that. Now she's 80-some so I don't get greasy about the mouth with her but I did stop dealing with her cause I'm not listening to foolishness, which I think is part of why she moved back down South. *Kanye shrug* She made one or two comments like that down home and my mama shut her down so it may be in control now.

And for some reason this alllll makes me think of Uncle Ruckus:

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Use your inside voice ... or I'll put you outside. -- SingLikeSassy