Born in Cincinnati, OH
San Francisco resident since 1972
I grew up in the Midwest in Missouri. My family did migrant work. It was really punishing on the body. One of the things that was a drawback in agriculture at that time was being an African-American. I came to understanding that the word “boy” does not mean, “Hey, come here. You’re part of the team.” The word boy in an essence was used as a method of kind of like zapping a person’s self esteem and consciousness. But I still had a chance to develop a sense of okay. Sometimes I feel like society’s trying to steer down a path, but it’s our responsibility to overcome whatever shackles that society tries to put upon us. I came out here in ’72. I did the whole military thing and then I jumped on a plane. I came out here and I just got busy. I went to work for BART. Then I worked for Bechtel International. This is the thing that really kind of crushes me just a tad – bigotry and isolation. Of all the states and all the places I’ve been in, California’s about the harshest, most racist. They go, “What? How could you say that?” I say, “You know what? It’s the truth. But they’re so smooth about it. They’re so smooth about it.” Once I became aware of the beast that I’m up against, I began to develop a method of dealing with the beast and not allowing the beast to consume me completely. As long as I don’t be completely consumed, I’ll be okay.