Tag Archives: childhood

Hit House

“Yes, that’s it. Guys, I just want you to pay attention here, okay?”

It was Saturday morning and I was in practice with the junior dance company. I was 11 years old, in a room with girls ranging from 10 to 14 along with my dance teacher, Mark.

I stood with my back to the mirror, a short distance away from the barre. A couple of fellow dancers to my left, Mark to my right. Hands lightly on my hips, I pulsed my ribcage so my chest stuck out and my back curved. Then I showed the girls what the move looked like when I pulsed my ribcage inwards, sucking my belly in to meet my back, chest sinking. Mark laughed, “That’s exactly right.” Continue reading

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Emma’s First Florida Christmas

(Note: If you are new to my blog, read these two stories first; Slow Pirouette for the Dancing Girl and The Baby Powder Incident.)

Caption: Christmas with my first foster mother, 1 year old.

Caption: Christmas with my first foster mother, 1 year old.

Caption: Christmas with my first foster mother, 1 year old.

Twenty years ago this Christmas, I had recently moved to live with my grandparents in Florida. I left my foster home with Pearl in Boston with just the clothes I had on. I arrived at a house on the water with gardenia bushes out back with no toys and nothing to wear. I was starting over in the Sunshine State. I turned eight the month before Christmas. Continue reading

The Importance of Being (John) Ernest

Prof. John Ernest with me and Kristin at our college graduation

Prof. John Ernest with me and Kristin at our college graduation

I went to college with a mission: I wanted to learn more about Being Black. Problem was, $10,000 of my scholarship money for New York University had fallen through on the day of my high school graduation. I wouldn’t be attending school in the diverse Mecca-lekka-hiney-bro Melting Pot known as NYC.

Nope. The University of New Hampshire would be hosting my education in Being Black. It was as unlikely a place as one could find for increasing cultural awareness. There were 78 Black students out of 13,000. If you were counting me, there were only 77.5 Black students. We do what we can with what we have, though, and what I had was a course catalogue listing a 500-level course for Introduction to African-American Literature.

Any time I’ve ever wanted to understand anything, I’ve turned to books. From cooking to interior design to tarot card reading, if there was anything I’ve wanted to understand, I just buried myself in every chapter and verse I could get my hands on. I thought if I could read about other Black people, their history, what they had been through . . . maybe I would understand a little bit more about myself. Continue reading