Thursday, November 13, 2008

His Victory Too!

Last week, when Barack Obama won the presidential election, there was another man who teared up (I'll call him "Jimmy"). He was crying for a very different reason. You see, he and Barack Obama have something in common. This is Jimmy's story...

Jimmy was born in the south in 1955. His mother, like Barack's, was a white woman. She was married to an abusive, drunken lout of a man who was so low on the social totem poll that even the local Ku Klux Klan (KKK) didn't want him (and that was pretty low). After one too many beatings, his mother wandered out into the night and found herself on the local military base near the town. Here she met a kind African-American G.I. who struck up a conversation with her, bought her a few drinks, applied ice to her swollen cheekbone, and offered a bit of kindness to her wounded psyche.

They began a very, very secretive relationship. Their relationship had to be secret at this time... it was 1954 America and, if discovered, they both could have been killed. After a few months, she decided to return to her husband. She and the G.I. probably figured that sneaking around just wasn't worth the risks to both of them. She had a problem though... she was pregnant! She carried the baby to term and Jimmy was born in May of 1955.

At first, she tried to pawn the baby off as her husband's child but, after a few years and some pretty ugly stares, it became apparent that this child not only wasn't her husband's but, also wasn't the same race as her husband. Scared to death of what would happen to both of them if discovered, the husband went along with the ruse and tried to raise the child as if it was his own son. This didn't fool or set too well with the local KKK, who burned a cross on their front lawn and told Jimmy's "father" that unless they got rid of that "mongrel", they would burn down his house with him and his wife in it.

Since Jimmy's birth, his mother had given birth to a baby girl in 1958 and another boy in 1960. He didn't want to lose his home and his biological children over some child that not only wasn't his but, was some nigger's child on top of that so, he ordered Jimmy's mom to take him away. He was seven years old when he and his Mom got on a bus and traveled to Philadelphia, where he was put up for adoption. He was adopted by an African-American couple who promised that they would take good care of him. His mother tearfully said goodbye to him and boarded the bus back to the south.

Jimmy would never understand why his mother abandoned him, why he was being separated from his brother and sister, and why he would now have to call these strange new people "Mom and Dad". Although black, Jimmy's skin was fair enough and his hair texture fine enough for him to "pass" for white at times. Sometimes you could look at him and tell he was black but, there were certain times you could look at him and think for a slight second that he was white. As a result, white people would often say things around him that they wouldn't say around somebody like me, who is quite obviously black. I told him that what he has is great because he has gotten to see the world from both perspectives, white and black. There are times when I'm quite envious.

For instance, last week on election day, two white people were talking about Barack Obama within an earshot of Jimmy and one of them said, "Well, it looks like Obama is going to win this thing." and the other one said, "Yeah, I know. Well, at least he's half white... he's not, you know?" They had no idea that Jimmy is an African-American. I'm one hundred percent certain that they never would have uttered that in front of me. He was incensed but, I told him not to be because we all say stupid and wrong things when we are in our separate tribes that we won't repeat in mixed company so, I told him to let it ride.

It makes me wonder sometimes if that is the real reason that Obama got a 61% white vote... because, "at least he's half white... he's not, you know?" Who knows? I can't pretend to know what goes on in the minds of people. Maybe one day, when Leroy Jackson is elected president, all doubts will be taken out of my mind.

The good news is Jimmy was reunited with his white birth mother and his white half-brother and half-sister. He found them when he was in his thirties, still living in the same town. His mother's abusive husband had since died and they welcomed him with open arms. He still takes care of his adoptive African-American mother and his adoptive father died a few years ago. When Barack Obama won the election last week, I know that I teared up a little... but, Jimmy teared up too because Barack's victory was his victory too.


The F$%K it List said...

That was an amazing post!

I can't imagine how Jimmy must feel, my nana has a similar story and she was shaken to the core. She never thought in her lifetime this would be a reality.

Thanks for the late night read!

Toni said...

You made me cry Keith,That was so

James Perkins said...

Great Post Brother...I can only imagine how "Jimmy" must feel.

Simon Bastion said...

Great Story Keith, I am a Carribean
national myself, but I know of America's racial past..This is a reminder of how far all of us brothers of color have come.

Angie B. said...

That was a truly touching story Keith.I'm happy Jimmy was reunited with his birth mother and his siblings.

Sunflower said...

The past and present racism in this nation remains an international embarrasment.

Tate2 said...

All I can say is "Wow" ,after reading that.

Lisa said...

Great Post Keith....Very moving.

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

Great post. One of my best friends is mixed and can pass and she always talks about the crazy stuff whites say in front of her because they think she is white. Its part of my theory as to why lighter skinned blacks are sometimes SO MILITANT.

Anyway I enjoyed this story!


Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

was all of ours victory, but cant understand why a mom would abandon a child

SLC said...

Glad Jimmy was able to reunite with his mom and half siblings. It's an even greater testimony that he's been able to apparently forgive or heal from the trauma of being given away at seven years old.

Great post.


Opinionated Diva said...

Wow...I love the way you told this story.

At first I didn't understand how any woman could just leave her child, but the reality is that she made the ultimate sacrifice to save everyone.

I also agree...we all say some pretty outrageous things when we're with our own tribes.

At the end, I was left wondering whether his biological father ever found out about him.

Keith said...

@Opionated Diva- From what he told me ,he has yet to locate his biological father.

12kyle said...

anutha gem, bruh!

i can only imagine the things that jimmy saw or had to deal with. if he could "pass" then that means that he may not have been accepted by blacks or whites.

Beautifully.Conjured.Up said...

Love it.

I don't doubt Obama being 50% White didn't have an affect on Whites voting for him.

What gets me is one minute claiming bi-racial people (when its good), then not claiming them (when its bad).

Somebodies Friend said...

Poor 'Jimmy', he sure must of had it rough early on.

I'm glad to hear he is adjusting well.

nikki said...

what a heartbreaking story! what a tremendous entry! damn, this moved me BEYOND tears.

Mizrepresent said...

Beautiful story Keith, as always. Your perspective on things is always refreshing. Whether Obama be part white, or part black, it really doesn't matter to me. I have voted in enuf elections to know that race was not the reason for my was a change...just like this time...i wanted, i needed a CHANGE!

Anonymous said...

Beautifully post. Dang you got my eyes watering up too early in the morning.

Parkay said...

Very nice story Keith. Thanks for sharing - PEACE

R. Fitzgerald said...

I really enjoyed that. Quite moving.


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