Not All Black and White - Coleman's mother's story.
You were always a clever child. Of the 3 of you, you were the one with the most promise, the most vision for the future. And while a mother shouldn’t love one chil’ more than the others, I confess I loved you best Coleman.
Evangeline was naive and beautiful. She loved you too and perhaps she might have forgiven you, but Walter...I think Walter was the most disappointed and the most angry, especially when he sees my hurtin’.
What would yo’ father have said? Bad enough that you were boxin’and fightin’ behind his back, no matter how good you were or how many prizes you won. He never understood the need for you to be boxing when you had so much brain to set you apart. I think that broke his heart even before it broke for good on the railroad.
Where did this dislike of your own come from? Was it from the boxing or was it after that? Was it when you went to New York? Was it from the girl Steena? What happened to her son? I know you loved her very much or you wouldn’t have brought her home.
I watch you and have watched you for years. You an old man now and I know Evangeline told you I was dead. For more than 50 years you’ve tried to be something you have no birthright to claim. And I see your turmoil that one day you be found out. I love you Coleman Silk but I am ashamed of you. Ashamed of the lies you told and the pretence you’ve made.
They say you get the children you deserve but I didn’t deserve this from you? I never saw my grandchildren, never met your Jewess wife. Your children don’ know who they really are a’cos you told them lies about you and who you really are. Does that not matter to you?
What if your secret had come out in them? What if your crazy-haired wife had found out and questioned you? Found out like Faunia did? What then? Your torment and your pretend life, all your learning and schoolin’ and your professorship would stand for nothing.
Oh, America may have come a long way for us niggers but all your accomplishments mean nothing if you’re coloured a boy Coleman. There’s no denying your heritage no matter how light your skin or white your features.
The first Jewish dean at your college? No Coleman. The first coloured dean. A far more worthy accomplishment. Far more inspirational for the coloured students that pass through your doors. You denied them that.
I feel your pain about the racist allegations made against you. But I can’t help but wonder at the irony of it. You calling 2 black kids who never came to class ‘spooks’ when you didn’t even know they were black? And you a coloured boy yo’ sel’. Oh Coleman – do you see the irony?
Your children may not understand you and Faunia – a white illiterate janitor woman and a classics professor more than twice her age? – but can you blame them?
But she’s what you need. A foil. A sharp-witted creature who knows what she wants. If it weren’t for your guilt from your children you might have been ok in your agreement together, despite that French professor woman’s meddling. You might have been happy and at peace of sorts.
But I hope you’ll be here soon Coleman. A coloured man in a heaven that’s colour blind. Where you won’t have to pretend no more and you won’t have to hide.
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