There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.- Maya Angelou
My grandmother was the kind of black girl magic that was dignified. She had a quiet strength that was evident in her everyday interactions with her family, peers, and community. She was a petite 4’10 but a powerhouse to me. She was my example of what it meant to be a black woman in America. Over the years I would develop my own experiences, but granny was my first study of black womanhood, life, and culture.
I lived with my granny until the age of seven in the ghettos of Philadelphia, North Philadelphia to be more precise. In a small housing project, of attached homes, with manicured grass and low rise apartments. It was clean. No litter. No graffiti. To be honest, I didn’t realize I was poor or that my people were oppressed. Granny made life in the ghetto rich with love, strength and abiding faith in God.
Granny wore her hair in curlers, tied with a scarf; a floral house dress with a Salem cigarette perched between her middle and index fingers in her tiny project kitchen. Her seat at the table was the closest to the light yellow phone that hung on the wall. Granny spent a lot of time on that phone. It is where I learned my first lessons about womanhood, blackness, community, and culture. I would hop in granny’s lap; rub her be beads’ on the back of her neck and listen incessantly to ‘grown folk’ talk. I didn’t get kicked out the room -maybe granny thought I was too young to understand what my tiny ears were entertaining.
Cornbread Culture is my personal exploration of black culture and identity. In my bi-weekly article, I will take a candid introspection of black cultural identity through personal stories. Some weeks, I will share my latest vinyl finds, books that touch my soul, politics that have me vexed; foodie indulgence and songs that draw nostalgia and make me wanna dance, sing or cry.
I hope you will join me on my journey to bring… ‘Cornbread For The Culture.’
Find me on Instagram at ayeshafatin_