Charles Coles was an old man by the time he was interviewed at his home by an out-of-work writer employed by the Federal government. Mr. Rogers, the writer, was a slim fellow with a receding hairline. His clothes weren’t the finest old Mr. Coles had seen, but Mr. Rogers didn’t seem to notice. He stood there on his door step with the kind of twisted pride that came from three hundred years of being told people like him were better than most.
The story of being Black in America could be summed up by telling you that Blackness is a memory. It’s a memory of the harshness, the inhumane cruelty that your mother’s grandmother undoubtedly went through. It’s the memory of the hard life your grandmother endured. It’s the memory of your own mother saying, “Stay calm. They won’t hurt you.”