|By Princesanegrita (Princesanegrita) on Monday, December 29, 2003 - 01:11 pm: Edit|
Tell me if you like my essay
"Um..Ma’am, I beg your pardon."
"I said shanuff babay."
"Gramma, what's that mean?"
"Girl, don't be too proper for your own good. I said SHOOR Enuff."
Both of my grandmothers are the product of the south. Big ma, my great great grandmother, lives today in a nursing home. When I sit at her bedside I am overwhemlmed with humility. Her bones are so small that she appears to be a mere skeleton covered in a gentle white blanket. When I hear the wisdom and fire in her voice, I sometimes think she might shatter into tiny pieces at any instant. But when she was younger, she was wide, with the cheekbones and hair of the Cherokees, and she proudly let us know we were both "African and Indian". I never saw the good in it, when I looked in the mirror I saw a broad nose, too high cheekbones, curly lips, and hair too nappy to be called "good" but too thick and long to be called anything else.
When Big ma, my great grandmother, and my grandmother all speak of the plantations that they "sharecropped" decades after slavery, I hoped there were lying. I was convinced they were excellent fabulist just embellishing some old memories, until I saw the bunions on their feet and the protruding calluses on their hands. When I was told the story of how my great grandmother scraped her whole ten cents, and nine children to arrive to Buffalo, and live in the ghetto, I could’ve sworn she was crazy. When I learned how Muh, my paternal great great grandmother hustled through a two year college with her flaming red skin and charcoal eyes, I knew she was brave. Why on the Lord's green earth would they all come to Buffalo? Looking at my smooth hands, I saw the answer screaming at me. This WAS the North, and it was supposed to be that "promised land" so their offspring could have a "better life".
When I turned my eyes to the ghetto, I saw was people who were worn out because they had worked all their lives, but so satisfied because their children were safe from the cotton fields. We were cotton shocked, white shocked. If it was light and fluffy, or you had to work and toil for it…it's damn near slavery and we aint about to do it. So if you can get your high school degree, marry a good black man, and not be somebody's statistic, well, that’s the Ghetto black American dream. I might've slumped into this ideology, since I had been around it all my life. I knew what it was like to try to be happy with roaches, and celebrate with mice. I had been inches away from living in a foster home, and functionally homeless for the course of 2 months. I knew the frustration of shuffling through church bins for clothing, and crying because this...well..it was hell. With the poverty comes the hope for escape, my older cousins chose to get pregnant, my good friend got strung out, and I just couldn’t. I never felt above the ghetto..or saw myself as superior..I had lived off government money and lived in a housing project for as long as I can remember. But, as the old folks would say "it shol aint the cotton fields."
They were right; it wasn’t the cotton fields, just some other type of plantation, where cycles were forming unbreakable links. I won’t, can’t live here, breathe here, raise my family here. Too many family members living under clouds of squandered potential, too many tears we shed for lives not yet ripe. So before we are bound by our circumstances, and fettered by the comfort of our infinitely better new lives, someone must make an exodus. There has to be progression. Sharecropping once held the splendor of the freed life, the ideal of equal opportunity magnified the ghetto, now we must decide our next move. So as I prepare for life after high school, I mustn’t consider myself only, but the woman, the mother, the doctor I see in the future. The woman who can come back and share information and knowledge with the people who need to hear. When I stare in the mirror at my high cheekbones, and my broad hips, I can’t help but see Muh and Big Ma staring back at me. “Can I do this, can I make it?” My eyes speak to me in the voices of their thick southern accents, “shanuff baby, this aint nobody’s cotton field.” I smile.
|By Chewieshooie (Chewieshooie) on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - 09:32 pm: Edit|
I personally really liked it, but I think it focuses too much about the conditions of the people around you and the bravery of your grandparents than it really focused about you. All we learn about you is that you want to get out. And some of the phrasing, like "too many tears we shed for lives not yet ripe" are too cliche and don't really contribute to the essay. Also, some places didn't flow well- try reading the essay to yourself out loud.
I hoped there were lying- shouldn't it be "they were lying"?
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