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What is your Culture?

What is Your Culture…

(they ask).

Who’re my people?

Where are you from?

I say…

I’m from the lap of my mother,

Grace Adelaide Banks

Plaiting my hair

On Saturday nights

In preparation for being

Perennially late

To the

9:15 service at the Baptist Church

Where my father will preach

The following morning.

I’m from all Easter Sundays, OK?

One and all.

And the smell of brand new

Black patent shoes

And stiff white tights that don’t

Hold up right.

I’m proud to the bone

Virginian, Nigerian and Irish too.

Is that OK with you?

I’m from –

Homemade Potato Greens

That classic Monrovia dish that

Tastes even better than

Mrs. Maude Washington’s

(That’s my grandmother’s cousin who

Raised my momma from the age of 4)

Damned good

Turnips and collard greens.

They hauled dear Maude,

At the age of 94

and my Uncle Edward off

To some white Old Folk’s home.

In Somewhere land,

A place, don’t you know,

where -

Little brown skinned girls

(Like me)

Were seldom seen.

Momma said Aunt Maude spent her time reading

Great-grandmother’s Vergie’s


And watching TV.

And when she died –

(I wasn’t invited),

They said she did it quietly.


I’m Beyonce’s smile, OK?

No one should ask me again!

And -

Aretha’s earthy soul,

Whenever I need a little Heaven

And it’s getting somewhat cold.

I’m my husband’s wife…

Did you hear me?

And the Captain of my kitchen!

Especially on Thanksgiving

Ain’t nobody better join me there!

Because I’ve got it all covered.

You’d better be aware.

Because I got

ALL of my Children here.

You hear me?

Every single last one.

Black, White, and Indifferent.

Everyone, (near and far).

We’re eating Sweet Potato Pie

And singing Maude’s favorite hymn

By and By…

And We are Good.

Do you hear me?

We are good.


Who are your people?

Are they somewhere beyond the sun?

Because you best believe it when I tell you-

They ain’t got nothing on

Where I come from.

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