Ck out this #Author Showcase by @pat_garcia “A Spotlight On My Childhood” – @RRBC_Org @RRBC_RWISA @Tweets4RWISA #RRBC #RWISA

“A SPOTLIGHT ON MY CHILDHOOD”

I am black. Born in the backwoods of Blythe, Georgia, on October 14, 1949, the midwife registered me as Colored. To be called Black was a curse word back then until James Brown recorded Say It Loud, I’m Black, and I’m Proud.

Blythe is not where we lived, though. My father came out of Keysville, Georgia, so the first five years of my life were spent there. Times were hard for Colored people. Many of them lived across the railroad track and worked in White People’s houses.

Some Colored folks escaped and went up north to Baltimore, Detroit, New York City, or Chicago. With five kids and a wife that had a strong bond to her family, going up North didn’t even enter my father’s mind; the farthest we ever got North was Augusta, Georgia.

Back in those days, we were lucky to have White people call us Colored. Most of the time, they called us niggers with a small n. I don’t remember when I first heard the word Negro or Negroes. I believe some of our relatives who had moved up North came back to visit and told us that we were Negroes and not Colored. That didn’t make any sense to me because when I looked at my skin, I saw the color and not Negro. Besides that, the word Negro was too close to the word nigger, and it was easy for most White people {who were still called White instead of Caucasian} to get tied tongue, and instead of saying Negro or Negroes,  they said nigger or niggers. Therefore, the connotation and definition of that one word ate away at my self-esteem.

Mister and Mrs. didn’t exist for us. No matter what you did, or how hard you worked, or what kind of achievement you acclaimed, behind closed doors you were a nigger, and you were addressed as either boy or gal, depending on your gender. When someone said hey gal, and you were the only Black on the street, you knew they were talking to you, and you had better stop at once.

The gals were wild game for White men, and especially when one of them needed to get his rocks off. As a result, mixed babies were born in our country town. Of course, no one said anything. A Colored gal, whether a teenager or a woman, didn’t dare scream rape. The White man took what he wanted, and when that poor unfortunate gal got pregnant, he didn’t look back once, unless he claimed he was bewitched and kept on returning to the gal. Then, he would have his family in the big house and his hoard of nigger children living in a cottage a few hundred feet away. Often it was the Colored man’s wife that was birthing the White man’s illegitimate brood. No Colored man would have dared say anything unless he wanted to be hung. The White man never lost his respectability.

Only the church deacons knew the truth, but like the churches in Europe that cohabitated with Hitler during World War II, they remained silent.

The poor gal was the one who suffered, though. Since most Colored folks didn’t believe in getting rid of the babies, the gal had to stand before the church and admit that she had sinned and asked forgiveness. Regardless of how many times she got pregnant from the same White man, she had to go before the church,  while the respectable father who had taken what he wanted, was sitting in his church pew in his area of town, praising God.

However, the truth could not be hidden for long. It did surface, especially when it was walking around with two legs, light skin, blue or green eyes, and good hair. You would hear Colored people whispering, “You know where that one came from.” I felt sorry for these babies. They grew up under a blanket of non-acceptance. They didn’t belong to us, but they didn’t belong to the Whites, either. They were rejected by both sides.

We moved to Augusta, Georgia, when I was six years old. Things changed for our family of seven. We no longer had an outhouse; we had a real bathroom and a driveway with no asphalt beside our matchbox house. Two bedrooms were not enough, but we made it. One bedroom was for the kids and one for my parents.

Being church-going people, we drove back to the country to go to church. My parents didn’t even consider moving our church membership to a Colored church in Augusta. Church services were held once a month. We attended Sunday School every Sunday and would visit the other Colored churches in the nearby country towns when we could.

Looking back on my childhood now, I see where the roots of discontentment with the way things were, strengthened my rebellion to get out soonest. When Dr. King and his group started pushing for tearing down the system of segregation, we were amening the Man. At that time, the Deep South was on lockdown. In fact, we were more isolated than the people in Alcatraz. We Coloreds had an onerous line to walk. You didn’t want to bring attention to yourself unless you wished to have a cross burned in your front yard. That meant your life was in danger, and the only choice you had was to run. Men like my daddy thought twice or three times before putting their families in danger.

Whatever we said about Civil Rights was said behind closed doors. Therefore, my mouth became an issue for my parents. My mouth was big. At least that is what my mama, daddy, and many of my aunties said. I got in trouble for saying the right thing at an inappropriate time. My temper wasn’t much better, either. Going to Sunday School, deep within me, I thought I had to practice what I learned. My parents and many others didn’t think so.

When I look back now, I see the frustration I caused them. There were so many things that I tried to understand but did not grasp, like why we had to pass by school after school to ride twenty-five to thirty miles to get an education. As a first grader, that was beyond my comprehension.

That was the Deep South, though. We lived under the humongous lie of an amendment that gave Whites in the Deep South the power to keep us as slaves legally. The separate but equal bill not only stigmatized us, but it also paralyzed us. In those days in the small rural towns, a Colored person was considered big time if they had an eighth-grade education. The Whites swore that our schools were just as good as their schools, but none of them would have changed places with us.

I discovered reading at an early age. My daddy wanted all his kids to get an education. He knew that the inferiority in the Black school was despicable. Although he only had three years of schooling, he had a mathematical brain. I remember him showing me how Algebra worked when I was in high school and later at the university. Nobody ever taught him. He just knew it.

My father insisted on his children learning to read. I found myself in the books I read. When the schools in Augusta integrated in 1966, I went to George P. Butler High School.

I wanted to be a writer. After being told that the best I could do would be to become a kitchen helper or a maid, I left Georgia in 1972. We were now labeled as Black Americans. In 1967, I had become the first Black American to graduate from George P. Butler High School. We were two Black students in the senior class. Based on the names being put in alphabetical order for the graduation ceremonies, my name came before the second student, and I had the honor of being the first.

If I had the opportunity to transport myself back in time and be a member of the 1868 Congress, I would bawl them out for signing into effect the fourteenth amendment that defined separate but equal rights, which threw the People of Color in the Deep South back into slavery. It gave the Deep South the freedom ticket to destroy our human spirit and to whittle down our self-worth, sliver by sliver.

Since then, I have become that which I was told I could not become. Having been raised in a Jim Crow State taught me to fight with words and to persevere through any difficulty. There have been setbacks along the way. Some because of my skin color, but it has been mine to choose how I see them. I have learned through my childhood experiences to tackle what is coming at me in every situation and keep running toward my goal.

***

To learn more about Pat:

*AUTHOR, PAT GARCIA

*The Author’s Story

9 Comments

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  1. Pat, your gift of words serves you well. The way you wrote this is a testimony to that. I am ashamed of my country, still today, for the inequalities we see everywhere. NO ONE should be judged by the color of their skin. Inside, we all carry the light and love of our creator that makes us the same. We came from the same source and will go back to the same source. We are a soul having an experience in a human body. Why I was born white and you were born black, I do not know. All I know is our souls do not know color. They know kindred spirits and love and that is what I feel with you. Thank you for using your gift of words, for being determined, and for having such a fighting spirit!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I grieve for the suffering I am reading here, and embarrassed about a nation that allowed such inequity to happen. However, your story has increased the volume of your voice and our country seems to going in the direction of righting a few of the wrongs. I’m glad you are writing as a victor, not a victim! Blessings, Pat!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Marian,
      I love the United States of America. I am thankful for the fact that I was born and raised there. Once a Frenchman approached me after one of my concerts. He apologized for the part his family played in slavery. We talked and I told him that I had discovered that that was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. We talked some more and when the conversation was over, I came away enriched. We both had found peace and he had been able to walk away with a free spirit, no longer mentally punished for the crimes his family had committed so long ago.

      Thank you for coming by and leaving a comment.

      Shalom aleichem

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Shirley Harris-Slaughter February 23, 2021 — 11:55 pm

    Pat I am from up North so never had the chance to encounter such outright racism. I was a little naive because of it and when I started researching and writing my first book, I learned more than I could ever imagine about the racism I was growing up in. Needless to say, it was a shocker. My husband told me I was naive. Maybe it was for the best for me because I would have grown up bitter and angry. You, on the other hand, had to grow up having it shoved in your face; and you came out on the other side undamaged – maybe.

    I wish this nonsense would go away but we witnessed what they did on January 6, 2021. It was a signal that these people are alive and well and not going anywhere. I think, however, that the tide is turning because the good white folks are waking up and speaking out, and not so much in fear for their lives or livelihoods as much as in the old days of jim crow. But there is much work to be done as this white privilege is entrenched in our laws, in the legislature, in our police force, in our communities, schools and especially in housing, in all walks of American life. And it will take some doing to clean it all out. Here’s hoping we will succeed because frankly I’m tired and exhausted by all of it.

    God bless you for having gotten through your life. Your angel was watching you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Shirley,

      Most of us that were brought up in a Jim Crow State were damaged and some still are. However, I am blessed. Even while living there, God always sent people who I did not know to watch over me. That I was able to be the first African American in a white school was a door opened unexpectantly. My faith made the difference in my life. I was given a determination that made me bucked the system.
      I don’t think laws change people. I believe that we as writers have the gift to write how the world should be and that that is what changes the perceptions of people. I saw what happened on January 6th on television. I was also shocked because I wasn’t expecting that. I am not trying to defend those people, but many of them were scared. They need a heart change, and I have never seen a law that changes the heart.
      Take care and God bless you.
      Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment.
      Shalom aleichem

      Liked by 2 people

  4. This is so powerful — I couldn’t stop reading. Pat, you have such a voice. So looking forward to all the stories and works that will pour out of you — for the benefit of all of us. Thanks, Nonnie, for shining a light on Pat’s light! 🙂 Best to you both.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hello Lisa,

      Thank you. My literary voice as well as my singing voice is a compilation of all my experiences. If I had not been open to accepting these experiences before they happened, or willing to feel the pain, or walk through the valleys that sometimes seem like they have no end, I wouldn’t have become the person that I am. becoming, nor would I continue to grow and blossom. As you very well know, Lisa, we never arrive because life is a journey. I am thankful because someone bigger than you and I has been accompanying me on my journey, and I would not have it any other way.
      Thank you so much for dropping by and leaving a comment.
      Shalom aleichem

      Like

  5. Pat, words can’t describe just how this made me feel. You are such a talent! Kudos to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My Dear Nonnie,
      You have become dear to me. You’re one of those people that have walked into my life at the appropriate time. I don’t see that as something that happened by chance. Thank you.
      Shalom aleichem

      Liked by 1 person

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