Sunday, December 03, 2006

Act Two - Journey Pt. 2

I was born on July 19, 1975 in a private hospital in the bedroom community of Wimbledon, UK. Years later my sister would tell me that the hospital staff had a running joke that I must have been the milkman’s baby. Born with pale skin and dark blue eyes, I would quickly darken like many caucasian babies do once melanin production begins. The scientifically trained hospital staff was well aware of this phenomenon, but apparently found it strange coming from the product of a medium brown black man with dark brown eyes and hair, and a light skinned black woman with medium brown eyes and hair.

I wa
s conceived 9 months earlier in Nassau while my parents were on holiday with family. Family lore has it that my maternal grandmother was the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy Irish American politician named Ralph Collins and one of his house servants, a Bahamian native. An importer who was rumored to have been a rumrunner, he built an enormous mansion in Nassau with an equally enormous wall surrounding it nicknamed Collins' Wall by the natives.

My uncle who would later settle in Cambridge, Massachusetts and become a real estate mogul in his own right, once described how painful it was to have his wealthy grandfather refuse to acknowledge him and the rest of the family. He could never understand how a man could knowingly let his children and grandchildren live in such squalor when he had so much wealth.

Himself the son of a Cornell alum, my uncle would graduate from Harvard Law and practice in Boston for several years before finally becoming a law professor full time. He married and had a son with a lawyer descended from a British family who came to Massachusetts in the early colonial period. His son would later attend college in Atlanta,
settle there after graduation and become a hip hop music producer.

- These series of posts are dedicated to the ‘finest woman in East Elmhurst’ of her day, my mother Kathlean Elizabeth Barnes. I am bold because she could not be.

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