I was told, many years later by my aunt, that when she went to change my diaper she screamed out Mama, come here! There is something wrong with Tony. My grandmother came into the room, looked down at me with me smiling back up at her and said there aint nothing wrong with that boy, he jus half white.
You see, my mother was black, and my father was white, so my lower half was consistent with my fathers genetic makeup. My aunt hadnt been used to such a sight, but my grandmother had seen many children resembling such a spectacle, even though she grew up in the deep south. At that present moment, we were in the cold mid-western city of Minneapolis, Minnesota in late 1963.
I wouldnt say that experience had an effect on me, but my ethnic situation during this time period (1963-1970) had some negative effects on me, This was the time period of the Civil Rights movement, along with the animosity being generated by the Vietnam War. At the time Black Power was catching on, I wasnt considered black enough by some African-Americans, and I surely wasnt white enough for the White Americans. So, I felt somewhat out of place in my youth.
Even within my own family, I could feel some tension about me as a child. Not from my own brother and sisters, but it was from my aunts, uncles, and my grandfather. On the other hand, my grandmother didnt care about my race, Mulatto; she loved each and every one of us the same, unconditionally.
My mother was a single mother on AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children), and she worked now and then until her death from Cancer in 1982, the same year I graduated high-school. She couldnt handle us five children, subsequently we were left alone for extended periods of time, days on end. This was how and why, I learned so many negative behaviors as a young black child, from the streets.
One of the bright spots in my days growing up was always the holidays spent at our grandparents house. When anyone spoke of that particular house, would say Im up to the house. This held a symbolic feeling of comfort, warmth, and togetherness, which my grandmother fostered with her elaborate holiday meals.
My grandparents house, was located on the citys north side on 16th Ave and Penn. In those days, the area was predominately Caucasian with a spattering of African-Americans who usually resided in the North-Side Projects