Mr. Greg at Crown Trophy

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I’ve been going to Crown Trophy for three years now.

Its a trip I enjoy taking (even though I wait till the last minute sometimes).

Every year I would rush to the shop to pick up  the spelling bee trophies and while there talk to the owner, Mr. Greg.

When I first went, I was surprised and impressed to see,  he was the owner. Like, I said many times before, most of the shops I go to are owned by Spanish employers.

While some may say it does not matter who own the businesses in your town,  I found out that the latter is not true. It matters a whole lot.

When a child see majority of his people owning restaurants, day cares, car washes, sign shops, party stores and so many corner stores that the phrase corner store is interchangeably used with bodega, then that child inwardly feels a sense of self pride (without much begin said).

Seeing Mr. Greg own the trophy shop helps me to puts this race thing into perceptive.

When I first met Mr. Greg, he spoke to me about his daughter who is a dancer in California. Like most proud fathers he boasted of her while telling me of her achievements and how the road raising her was not easy at all but she some how made it.

This time, he spoke about his daughter again but the focus was not so much on him as it was on her. His tone was more serious. This time he was not so much raving about her as he was sharing her testimony. I felt like while he was talking, he felt her hurt.

She’s grown now. I’ve watched her transform from Daddy’s little girl into a full grown women. She has matured in every way. She has learned that your hair has to be a certain texture and your skin a certain tone  for you to be fully accepted in the industry. While she was growing up, I provided the best way I could for her to be comfortable and go after what she wanted. I couldn’t explain all of that to her. When you are great at your craft and there are 30 other people in the room great at the same craft, how are you going to make them choose you?

When he was done talking about his daughter, I thought how beautiful it is when parents talk about their children! And if you are a good listener, you can tell that the conversations shifts as the parent and the child grows. The tone and diction the parents use changes as life changes for them.

Sensei Tony

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Hi Tony! Sensei Will was telling me you grew up in North Carolina.

Yeah, I did.

He told me a little bit about your past and the racism that you had to endure with as a child. He said something about how you were tied to a tree?

Yes. I was. That happen when I was a little boy. I was only in the third grade. I remember it like yesterday. What happened was, it was Valentine’s Day. All the kids brought in candies and gifts. We had a little party. A little white girl gave me some heart  shape candy and kissed me on the cheek. You know that colorful candy with words on it shaped like a heart? Well, we had that candy back in the days too!

Anyways, when it was time to go home boys, around my age and a little older, followed me and my brother taunting us along the way. Telling us we shouldn’t be liking any white girls and things of that sort. They beat us up and then proceeded to drag us into the woods. Next, they tied us to a tree telling us they were going to leave us there for the bears to get us. We as children were terrified. It began to get dark and we were still there. Then, I saw the bushes move and that’s when I began to struggle a little more to get unloose.

Finally, the rope came unloose and I untied my brother. We first had to find our way out of the woods being that it was night-time. When we got home, the base (we lived on an army base) was filled with cops and others looking for us. When we told them what happened, nothing was done to punish the boys who taunted us.

Tony is a Martial Arts instructor at the Mary Mitchell Center. He shared his story about growing up in the south with the Mary Mitchell family.

Something Black in America

On Thursday I took my little brothers to the Brooklyn Museum to view and hear Question Bridge: Black Males. 

This exhibition was put together by artists Hank Willis Thomas and Chris Johnson in collaboration with Bayeté Ross Smith and Kamal Sinclair.

I am glad I went to the exhibit. I am now able to understand African American males a little more. Just because I am African American doesn’t mean I fully understand what my brothers are going through. I think they have to put up with things like racism a little more than their sisters.

Not only did I walk away with a better understanding of my brothers but I also walked away feeling empowered. Listening to the dialogue and having certain questions answered by men from all walks of life brought a type of energy in the room, a  feeling of being satisfied about who I am.

I would suggest this exhibition to anyone from any race, male and female. Sometimes when you learn things about others, you learn things about yourself.

The quote in the picture reads:

“There is something called black in America, and there is something called white in America, and I know them when I see them, but I will forever be unable to explain the meaning of them, because they are not real, even though they have a very real place in my daily way of seeing, a fundamental relationship to my ever-evolving understanding of history and a critical place in my relationship to humanity.”

– Carl Hancock-Rux,