When I saw the call for submissions in 2015 for “A Race Anthology: Dispatches and Artifacts from a Segregated City,” out now from the City Club and Guide to Kulchur Press, I knew what I wanted to write about. I grew up in an in between time when racial hope and the legacy of racial segregation were equally present. The elementary school I attended, Roxboro in Cleveland Heights, was 50/50 black-white, but on the other hand the tracking system there started early. Racism was a heavy topic in our household, as my grandfather on my mom’s side came from Texas and carried prejudiced attitudes with him when he came to work as an orthopedic surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic. Growing up, I heard stories from my mom about my grandfather forbidding her from playing with black children, even as I made black friends at my school.
“When I became friends with Lonnie, a black classmate, I asked my mom if I could invite him home for lunch (back then, kids with stay-at-home moms could do this, an anachronism in our test-centric world),” I write in my piece, which is called Roxboro. “I remember eating peanut butter and jelly with him and giggling in our basement playroom as we bounced around on a giant ball.”
Now I live in Cleveland with my wife, Katherine, and our three children. Our two school age kids attend Campus International, a CMSD school. But we are protected by the mantle of privilege, and racism persists: “My hopefulness was punctured last year when I learned of Tamir Rice’s death. Home with my kids on Thanksgiving break, I couldn’t stop clicking on the iterative headlines on Cleveland.com. As I watched the video of Timothy Loehman pulling onto the lawn and killing the 12-year-old boy two seconds later, I felt a black pit open in my stomach and fell into it.”
I just picked up my copy of A Race Anthology a few weeks ago, and I’m looking forward to digging into it. There are many, many fine contributors here, including the likes of RA Washington, Sharon Holbrook, Mary Weems, Ali McClain and others. Check it out here.
Also, read Amy Hanauer’s wonderfully written piece on Cleveland.com about it here.