Acceptance

I haven’t wrote in here in a while but I’ve thought about it a lot. This is going to be a long post so if you like scrolling enjoy. This is my truth in life without the man that’s loved me like no other, who I have loved like no other. A Grandfather is more than a father. He is an ancestor. Mine was a wise old spirit at a  young age as was I.

Coming from truth it’s a journey I couldn’t envision. A life without Jimmy Norman. Not too many people thought I’d survive his death, neither did I. Yet I am still here. My heart still beats as my lungs inhale.

His do not, yet Grampa never leaves me. I wonder am I haunted by him or is he just that much a part of me?

I considered leaving this blog alone because it’s like I’m keeping him alive in some kind of weird way and I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. The Lord takes whom he will when he will. Man has no bearing on His will.

I have to accept Grampa’s not in his living room on 70th Street anymore.

He’s gone.

Thing is creepy shit happens from time to time and we can tell Grampa’s here with us. I’m sure he pops up on my mom from time to time and it creeps her out too. There’s nothing we can do about it but we surely can lessen the strange occurrences by not keeping his ass alive and well in the absence of his physical presence, lol.

See, I’ve had a hard time letting go…

He’s most of what I know in this life. Mom and I are cool but I kinda messed that up in my teens. Him and I became closer when mom and I fell out and I could always trust him.

I could depend on him most times.

Grampa was home.

Now if I actually wanted to reside in his home all the time(s) I did or not was a whole ‘nother animal. I had more situations in life than most children, sometimes home was the best and only place to be.

Jimmy Norman was a strange creature to say the least and sometimes not the kindest, as we all have our different moods and waves. Not all the time did we see eye to eye. Not to mention I had to grow up and out of his  house at some point right?

I couldn’t live at home forever, although I surely tried. I loved him, I loved home and I didn’t want to go anywhere else. Ever really. But I had to so I ventured out on my own more than a few times.

I always left and ended up coming back. Even when I didn’t have to or need to.

I needed to.

Because Grampa was there and I just needed to be near him. Even if I didn’t stay home for days or weeks on end, just to know I could turn the key in the door when I did come home and see him in the living room would make my soul rest comfortably wherever I was.

I can’t do that anymore. That’s what eats at the deepest parts of my soul in a way nobody could understand but my mother, maybe his wife.

I haven’t been able to turn my key in his door and see him sitting there at his table in more years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds than I could have ever possibly imagined…and that’s some real bullshit to me.

 

Since his death he’s become EVEN MORE a part of my world than he was when he was alive. Crazy but true.

When I wasn’t home I always heard his words in my ears. When I couldn’t hear his voice, I called him to hear his voice. I can’t do that anymore and that’s some bullshit too.

At least there’s youtube and his music. For that I’m grateful. I wish I could turn to the hundreds of videos he’s recorded over the years.

See, I grew up on those VHS’s. He’d come back from a show and gather us all around the t.v and show us this show he did out of town or overseas because we couldn’t be there. He’d tell us when and what channel to tune in to see his latest interview or he’d show us the newest music video he was working on. He always valued his family and friends opinions of his work and we always loved most everything Grampa did.

When I got older and it was just him and I living at home I’d be in my room, both of us bored as hell doing nothing for the day and I’d pass by him headed to the kitchen. He’d stop me and say “Hey baby, uh, you remember that ‘such and such’ video? Yea, it’s in that crate over there in the closet, or look maybe under the t.v in the cabinet. It’s labeled so you should be able to see it.” I’d dig and search for whatever he wanted me to pull out then hook up the t.v to the VHS for him. Sometimes we’d sit back and smoke a doobie while he remembered the times and told me stories while we watched video after video.

I’m not so well adjusted to this life without him and I hide it well. Kinda. Not really to those who know me.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever adjust really.

Thing is he wasn’t all good…but he wasn’t all bad either. He was just Him and He was a trippy soul to love. He was one that’d create, confuse, heal, destroy, build those who loved him the most.

He was real as hell.

He’d give you the truth in a minute. His truth. Sometimes skewed in my opinion but what artist do you know who’s perfectly sane? lol.

He was wise I give him that. It’s his wisdom and his love I miss the most.

I miss loving him.

Having a reason to push myself. For Grampa.

He wanted so much for me.

He only saw a fraction of his dreams for me come to pass, before he did.

Although I’d come close, I wasn’t what he fought me so hard to be.

He always believed in me. I always believed in him and for that we were magnetized to each other no matter who’d forsaken us. We always had each other when there was no one else was there. 

Now my children are here and their love is sweeter than a summer day but…there’s nobody like my Grampa.

Except me, and my mom. She’s a lot of him in so many little ways. I don’t see her as much as I’d like to.

I’ve damn near become the man. He’s all over me, his words rolling off my tongue and through my heart before I even know it as I speak to my children.

I probably caused a large portion of Grampa’s heart problems unknowingly through stress and worry.

I didn’t understand that stress really can kill someone until I started college for health care in my late 20’s.

I didn’t understand what a parent’s worry was like. I didn’t have Grampa’s issues with my children.

I had other issues with my children that were insurmountably painful. I was buried in my own pain most of my life. It showed.

Grampa couldn’t understand my pain. He couldn’t understand what life was doing to me as I couldn’t understand what I was doing to him.

Well, God showed me Grampa’s pain. God showed me my mother’s pain. Glimpses compared to what I’m sure to have imposed upon them both over the years. Oh, He showed me and I’ve repented sincerely, praying for forgiveness for any and all of the pain I ever caused my parents. I totally understand.

Through understanding I utilize prevention. I refuse to die through my children’s lives. I learned through Grampa how to parent me.  How to push me, how to not push me. My children are mini me’s, replica’s of me.

I also educated my children on what stress can do to the human body.

My children have given me one minor heart attack, months on end of TMJ, nightmares, stress induced spinal nerve inflammation, and exacerbated the already extreme symptoms of a stomach condition which left permanent lasting effects. Caused by nothing other than worry, concern, love and stress over my babies.

I couldn’t imagine what Grampa must have felt for all my situations, how his health suffered watching my complicated life unfold.

Like he said “May the Lord forgive you for you know not what you do. God takes care of babies and fools and you’re a bit of both baby.”

I took solstice in that and was reckless teenager…and adult. Sheesh. I took forever to grow up.

I had Grampa when I had Grampa. Grampa wasn’t always available to be a parent and home wasn’t always an option.

He did him, I did me and but we loved each other. We understood each other in the strangest of ways without fully understanding each other at all.

As he said time and time again “Baby, me, your mama and your sister are all the family you’ve got. At home you’ve got me and I’ve got you and that makes Us all we’ve got. We gotta love each other no matter what.” And we did.

Not always reliable either of us, but always there, even when we weren’t there.

For that I can’t just forget him.

I can’t let go.

I can’t just say it’s okay when it’s not.

He’s gone and this is bullshit.

But he’s not really gone because he’s here.

He’s home. Home is where the heart is he always said.

I know home’s always been him for me…and for some part of him I was home too.

Home was home when I came home and he loved it. Sometimes he wanted to be alone, didn’t want me home. Mostly he wanted to see me on my own doing good for myself somewhere with a family, good husband, kids and education. He didn’t understand that I couldn’t let go of home for but so long at a time.

Didn’t work out quite that way. Not exactly in that order you know?

When I came home it was always to leave as soon as possible if I was in a situation or to stay for a time if I was visiting.

Usually I’d stay on a 2 month visit when I did visit, sometimes just a couple weeks. Sometimes I’d stay longer because I really truly didn’t want to leave him or home. He was comfortable for me and I hated being away.

I loved our apartment, our neighborhood, all my childhood memories, some of the neighbors, the peace home gave me. But, I did have to leave and try to make a new home for myself elsewhere as I got older. I tried.

Until 2009 when I had to stay home…

Because Grampa was leaving.

He’s gone. I’m still here.

Here in NY. In this city without him.

As I never have been, ever in my life. In New York without Grampa.

Insanity. That’s what it feels like when a train gets too close to 59th Street Columbus Circle. I find myself rushing the other direction…quickly. When I do have to get off the train near home I rush to my destination and back on the train before the emotions capture and incapacitate me.

He’s always here. Whether we invoke him or not.

I am a descendant of him.

I will go home one day as he did.

While I’m here still the goal every day is to be all he envisioned for me, that is should my heart keep beating long enough to give me life to get there.

I will never stop trying. His voice is always in my ear.

Now, I am the parent and I have children who must hear. By God’s grace I pass his wisdom coupled with my own forward to the next generation…of his descendants.

No matter what I do, Grampa’s always here with me…he’s always here with us.

Whether we want him to be here or not….because he is me…I am him, through my mother I am him, through me, through my mother, they are him.

#Bloodline #Acceptance

-Jay Dee

Scientists Say Aggressive New HIV Strain Discovered in Cuba

This is why despite my sexual choices I am steadfast in being health conscious at all times.

TIME

A recently-discovered form of HIV in Cuba has been found to progress into AIDS some three times faster than the most common strains of the virus, according to a recent study.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Leuven in Belgium, followed several reports of HIV-infected people in Cuba developing AIDS in less than three years, far faster than the usual 10 years it typically takes. All patients infected with CRF19, a recently-discovered strain of the HIV virus, had higher levels of it in their body.

They were also more likely to have developed AIDS within three years, the study published in the journal EBioMedicine found. The researchers, who looked at 95 patients at various stages of infection, concluded that the strain must be “particularly fit.”

Approximately 35 million people worldwide are living with HIV or AIDS, and nearly 40 million have died of the disease since…

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Growing Up ‘Black’ in a White World

My Grampa had an unconventional life.

He married a much younger Canadian Caucasian woman in Niagra Falls, New York in the 1960’s I think it was, could have been 70’s. I’m not too sure on their wedding date.

None the less he was an American Black man.

I haven’t done much research on racial relations in Canada but I do know there are family members of hers that wouldn’t speak to my grandfather, mother or us. There are others in her family that still see us as family even though he is dead and gone.

I remember the stories he told us about him and Gramma when they traveled the states.

As a musician he traveled extensively and his young wife always wanted to be by his side.

Sometimes that just wasn’t possible. They couldn’t go everywhere together as a mixed race couple.

That was in the 60’s and 70’s.

Here’s a quote from Wikipedia on my Grandfather’s life:

“In 1962, Norman released his biggest charting single, “I Don’t Love You No More (I Don’t Care About You)”, which reached #21 on the BillboardBlack Singles” chart and #47 on the “Pop Singles” chart.[5]

That’s how it was. There was a ‘Black Singles’ chart and a ‘Pop Singles” chart. -_-

I also know  how things were when I was growing up perceived as an African American child in this great city.

When I was a child in the 80’s there were stares and whispers when we went out as a family.

My Grandfather obviously a black man, his wife a white woman, a woman who was about the same age as his wife who appeared to be mixed with one light skin and one dark skin child who both appeared to be African American in tow.

As a family?

We were upper middle class/middle class when we presented as a family in public. (Our actual dynamics were actually another story.)

We put on a good face when we stepped out.

We were all very well spoken, us as children were well behaved, well groomed, we all dressed well, Grampa had money it showed, and we were still stared at.

Crazy the race issues we had to deal with.

We lived in a primarily Caucasian neighborhood, went to Caucasian schools and had Caucasian friends growing up.

We weren’t white though. That was apparent.

Caucasian children can be very, very mean to black children. They only know what they learn at home and kids don’t know politically correct.

We weren’t stupid as children and we could hear very well. People say the darndest things around children. For some reason adults think children don’t understand the things they say. Trust me, they do. The things adults said around and to us as children of color were just plain hurtful.

I grew up torn over my skin color and heritage despite my Grampa and mommy reassuring us that black was beautiful and educating us on ourselves from Ashanti fables to African dolls. Still, being black in New York City hurt.

Sometimes I hated ‘being black’ because all it did was bring me problems, problems that were in this world before I got here and problems I couldn’t do anything about.

We discovered very young the world wasn’t nice to black folks.

That was New York City 1980’s.

I grew up with the worst kind of racism, the smile in your face whisper loudly while walking away kind of racism.

Grampa said these folks in NYC weren’t nearly as bad as the folks down south. I didn’t believe him. I told him times have changed and racism wasn’t that rampant through the states anymore.

I moved to Tennessee myself at the age of 24. I lived in Red Bank with my then husband who was just as black as a Nigerian. He and his entire family were all born and raised in a nearby town. We moved to TN to get a change of pace and be closer to his family.

It was there I experienced my first direct racism.

I love jewelry. My husband took me to the local pawn shop which was the only place to buy jewelry in the town. When we entered there was one person at the counter speaking to the sales woman behind the counter. As we waited in line two more white people came in and lined up behind us. When the sales woman was done with the white person in front of us she called “Next!” over our shoulder inviting the white man behind us to the counter. My husband and I looked at each other incredulously. I mentioned to the sales woman we were next in line. She ignored me as if I hadn’t spoke and continued to beckon the man behind us forward. He stepped forward as if he agreed with her decision to not service us, he did not say “They were next, go ahead and take care of them first.” or anything at all. He began to shop with the sales woman smiling and conversing with him as if we were invisible.

An older gentleman then came out the back of the shop and opened the register next to us and called out next to the white man who was left behind us. We walked to the older gentleman’s register beating the white man there before he could say a word. The old man behind the counter turned and walked away without ever saying one word. The white man went back to his position in line behind the other white man being serviced.

As my mother’s child I held my composure and dignity. My ex husband, the son of a NYU professor, did the same. He experienced direct blatant racism from the crew he worked with daily while we were in Red Bank, TN. As a man it was hard to deal with without defending himself. As his wife it was hard to watch him suffer through the name calling and taunting from his crew.

Ultimately we moved. (Not just due to the racism but it had a large part to do with the events that led up to us moving.)

As I got older I experienced corporate racism as a Marketing Manager, my ex husband also as a Financial specialist. Both were ‘white’ worlds in this city where we as ‘black’ people excelled.

I’ve experienced housing discrimination due to blatant racism. Certain areas in NYC and other cities won’t rent to black folks or have qualification requirements designed to weed out black folks from minimum credit score to minimum income ‘standards’ to just plain ole “We don’t have anything availablne at this time, check back with us later.” after responding in person to a real estate agency after reading an ad listing of available apartments.

I am now 35  years old and I see so much racism on so many levels in this country and it’s so widespread. I’m learning to teach my children how to navigate the world while maintaining dignity, without developing hatred and harboring injustices in their hearts.

Racism just done much smarter nowadays than “dragging a nigger down a dirt road with a rope around his neck”.

The world I live in is not one that is designed for us as those who are of ethnic origin to excel in.

We were once Kings and Queens, we have overcome and we have steadily and continuiously broken chains and risen above expectation.

We have become all we were once said we could not become. Doctors, lawyers, chemists, educators, inventors, politicians and so on.

That was never supposed to be for descendants of slaves in this country.

We were brought to these states to only be slaves with no value as actual humans to become a part of the society we were building on our backs.

Just because we’ve been given leeway and inspiration through political progress does not mean we are free.

We are not.

We are still hunted and persecuted at the most basic of levels while living daily life in so many ways.

From unfair voting laws still in existence to low quality schools, biased health care, employment and housing discrimination, and the list can go on.

Let’s not forget the troops of hunters out there with badges and guns.

We are at the mercy of those who enter the police force only to satisfy their racist hatred for the communities in which they work.

Not all cops are bad. A lot are.

It’s those who survive persecution despite all odds being against us with sanity in tact who become the successful ones.

I know the struggle, from the inside and out.

I was raised immersed in whiteness with brown skin.

I am now a part of the revolution.

It is coming.

How strong will it be is the question.

Thing is, will we really make changes as we did in the 60’s?

For each change we make toward progress ‘they’ think of another way to implement the same thing they’ve been doing since we first came off the boats.

Will we ever be able to really overcome?

Will we ever really be free?

I remember the day Barack Obama was elected into office.

Grampa and I sat on the couched, whooped, hollered and yes, we cried together.

He never thought we’d see a president with slave blood in his veins.

I’m grateful he’s not here to see the state of our country at present.

I know he’d think we went right back to square one.

I’m glad I don’t have to see that pain in his eyes.

-Jay Dee

Black in Indonesia: Experiencing Racism

Black in Indonesia: Experiencing Racism

Racisim is something my Grandfather experienced without parallel growing up in Tennessee.

He was world traveled as I aspire to be.

Last year I found out I am not African American and Native American as I’d always thought.

My grandfather was African American.

My grandmother was Indonesian & Mexican.

My mother resembles a Mexican African American.

My sister also resembles a Mexican African American. Her father is African American and Native American with a very strong Native American appearance.

My father is as Black as a Back man could be in appearance. There is some speculation there is Caucasian in his ancestry but that is not reflected in his pigmentation-at all.

His father is as black as a black man could be in appearance as well.

That skipped me. Totally.

Myself and my children all have Asian, Latin AND African American features.

I have a deep reddish brown complexion with the softest, curliest obviously Latin influenced hair (which I thought was American Native hair) and almond eyes that sat so high in my youth most people assumed I was part Asian.

My first daughter’s eyes actually have the deep Chinese eyelid tuck along with the almond shape! Her father is African American.

My son appears to be Mexican and African American. His father is African American.

I always knew I wasn’t just black no matter what anyone said. I was teased and even despised because I was accused of not wanting to be my own race and trying to pass for something I was not.

My features and personal attributes told me I wasn’t just black. I noticed myself in other races.

I learned and spoke Latin very easily in school. I also learned to speak Spanish exceptionally well, very easily like almost second nature. Later in life I fell in love with a Dominican/Puerto Rican guy (hey, I’m a Ny’ker) and we have a 14 year old child. During our time together I was often mistaken for Colombian, Cuban or Panamanian because of my skin color and immersion into the Latin culture so seamlessly.

Since I was a child I wanted to fully decorate my home in the true Asian fashion including proper Feng Shui in each room. My grandfather was Bhuddist for a time. I loved the culture of the Buddhist way of life and everything associated with Asian culture.I even make and blend my own teas, cosmetics and medicines (when I can afford to) and have since I was a teen, continually evolving.

I wondered why did I have these attributes if I was just ‘black’?

I went on a quest for my origins and found through word of an older cousin, son of my grandmother’s sister, our hand written family tree book passed down from generation to generation reflects our mixed ancestry.

I now wish to visit the countries of my oldest known ancestor’s origins.

I wish to one day find our true beginnings but the more I look the more I find that is next to impossible.

The one thing I have to take into consideration while searching for those roots is my reddish brown skin.

Before setting out on my travel quests I am researching…

It’s amazing how those with darker pigmentation are perceived and treated around the world.

Nowhere we go are we treated with the dignity and respect we deserve as human equals because of one thing African Ancestry.

Why ?

Maybe my skin is dark because of my Mexican ancestors.

Maybe I come from Black Indonesians.

In the end none of that matters.

What matters is somewhere in my bloodline someone was African.

That gives those ignorant souls around the globe the perceived notion they can treat me any way they wish.

Such a shame…

-Jay Dee

Blatant Disregard

Growing up in NYC was tough. I was a girl with no cousins or siblings close by to come to my defense. Learning how to survive was done early and quickly. I did fight in my younger days but I stayed away from guns as best as I could.

That saying “If you live by the sword you will die by the sword. If you kill by the gun you will die by the gun.” was ran into my head over and over by Grampa. He didn’t promote carrying and using weapons in the streets to me. \

I did what I had to do when I had to do it but I never took a life. Never.

I don’t believe in murder and abhor it with everything in me but I do believe those who kill without justification should receive the same penalty as their victim. An eye for an eye.

The one thing Grampa and I agreed on was the disdain for the blatant disregard humans seem to have for other human life.

Historically man has killed man for a wide variety of reasons.

‘Reasons’ being the key word. Despite how silly the reasons may have been most times the killer had a ‘reason’ for killing.

Now a days (as Grampa would say) killing is done so easily without reason.

Killing of police officers, police officers killing civilians and yes, folks killing each other for no reason.

Without regard to the victim’s lives or families people are killing people for NO reason.

I know as a person who has carried life into this world time and time again it pisses me off to think of the mother who must suffer as her child leaves this earth.

Every person was born into this world by a female who had to nourish and carry that life until it left her womb.

Last I recall pregnancy is not easy. Neither is raising a child.

For those who have lost a family member or child at the hands of others my heart goes out to you.

I’ve been a lot of places, done a lot of things and I know my Grampa worried if I’d walk back through the doors of our home many a days.

Almost like I do today with my loved ones.

Back then he was worried about thugs.

Today I’m worried about police and thugs.

As a mother I really loathe watching the news sometimes. I can’t stand seeing my FB feed sometimes.

All the killing and blatant disregard to the months we carried forth life, the years mothers and parents of all kinds spent protecting, loving and nurturing, sacrificing and praying for that life.

The people who expended their life force to bring that child through life day by day wear the pain of those who kill.

Not the killed.

The killed are dead.

The killer is essentially punishing the dead’s family.

Nobody thinks about that.

People just kill.

-Jay Dee

A lot has happened

In recent months. It is now a new year.

Last year was filled with racial tensions, police/community tension, political blame and the revolution looked like it was ready to begin.

I think a lot about this blog and which direction I’d like to take it. I think to myself what would Grampa like to see on the blog if he were alive to scroll through it every day.

What would he have pondered if he saw what I saw and experienced what I experience on a day to day basis in the past few years?

The beauty I’ve seen, the events I’ve seen, the places I’ve seen since his death I believe he’s always been right here beside me. I’m talking from the moment he left this earth in physical form I believe some part of him surrounded me and is still with me moment by moment.

Quiet or strong his presence is always near.

In a way I think the best thing I could do for the blog I created en memorial to a Legend and a New Yorker is to just tell it like I see it and tell my truths.

This blog is titled Coming From Truth ONLY because I couldn’t name it The Way I See It which the title of one of my Grandfather’s songs.

That blog already exsists. In the spirit of telling it the way I see it and coming from truth I hope to share with you my city & my views in keeping of the tradition of storytelling.

I am a great storytellers grandchild and sponge.

Deeper thinking was the backbone of Jimmy Norman’s life and career.

These pages will reflect his impact on my mind’s eye as he raised me.

-Jay Dee