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Posts Tagged ‘Ruben Blades’

Track 4: Where does America begin?

Where does America begin?

M.C. Mallet

 

“Where are you from?”

“I was born in Germany.”

“Wow. What’s it like there? Do you speak German?”

“I don’t remember it; we left when I was about two.”

 

“Where are you from?”

“Kansas.”

“They have Black people in Kansas?”

I am a Black man, a U.S. citizen by birth, though born in Europe, whose first words (according to family legend) were in German. I am the child of a Black American Southerner and an Afro-Panamanian immigrant and native Spanish speaker with roots in Jamaica and St. Lucia. I was reared in the Roman Catholic church, not the Black church. The first 13 years of my life were spent in motion—Germany, California, Utah, Kansas, Colorado, Panama—living on Army bases with Army families similarly transient and ethnically/culturally mixed. At the beginning of my teenage years, I fell into what we conventionally call “America.” Kansas, to be specific. The middle of the middle. Landlocked. Predominantly white. Population about 35,000. A small town in general terms, but a city in that region of the country.(more…)