THE GOOD – THE BAD – THE UGLY AND THE BROKEN
ROBERT AND EFFIE FAULK
THE UGLY AND BROKEN
My mother’s family came from my great-great-great grandmother who was stolen out of Africa, and my great-great grandmother, while on that long road to freedom on 1866, gave birth to my great grandmother, Daisy, in Virginia. Daisy, the granddaughter of a tormented, beaten and raped slave woman from Africa and the daughter of a tormented, beaten, and raped woman from Virginia, would live a long life and end her days in Boston, MA.
She would birth three daughters and one son, and have the companionship and marriage of an African American and Native American man, named Daddy Herbert, who would return to her forty year after he had been put out of her life for molesting one of her daughters, my grandmother, Effie Faulk. She would marry another man during that time named Mr. Brown and he would be accused of the same thing by her. She would have the companionship of her three sisters; their mother was my great-great grandmother and they would all live long lives as I knew my great aunts also.
One of the sisters, Aunt Rosie, a very, very fair and light skinned woman whose father could have only been a white man, ran a house of ill repute and prostitution on Shawmut Avenue in Roxbury, back in the 10’s, 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. My mother would take my sister and I to see her from time to time in the 1950’s and she was a very sweet, but business like old white looking woman with what looked like growths on her face, and always looked like she didn’t take no shit from anyone.
We would walk over from my projects and walk up this road from Madison Park, it was like a short cut to Tremont and Hammond Street where two of my great aunts, Aunt Lillie and Aunt Mamie lived, right around the corner from Aunt Rosie. Aunt Mamie was real, real old and always had a shawl on, she was a short dark woman, looked like what the slaves must have looked like, she, and I would bet on it, looked exactly like her mother, the daughter of the slave from Africa.
Aunt Lillie was a big boned light brown woman who also looked like she meant business. She could look right through you and know if you were a bad kid, but she always offered me and my sister a glass of ginger ale, while she always drank a glass of something, from a green bottle that said Ale. My mother seemed to know them well and to like her aunts very much, and I the great-great grandson of an American Black Slave and the great-great-great grandson of that eleven year old little girl from Sierra Leone, Africa, an American Black Slave, would have the extraordinary privilege at five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten and eleven years old of knowing, talking, being touched, looked at, kissed and hugged, by my great aunts, the daughters of an American Black Slave, the granddaughters of an American Black Slave from Africa.
As I have said, before, I knew their sister, my great grandmother, Daisy, in the 1950’s & 60’s. She lived on Ellington Street in Dorchester with her husband Daddy Herbert, her son’s family and a few second and third cousins of mine. She never touched me like her sisters did and never had much of anything to do with me. She was a strange old lady, skinny and skitterish, like a race horse with an extra step of high energy. She had a high pitched voice and speech that I could never understand.
Like all old people like that do, all five would faded away from me, and then I guess they were no more. Anyway, I never saw any of them again after I turned thirteen, they probably all died around 1959-1962. I think Aunt Mamie was the second oldest and my great grandmother would have been 96 or 97 when she died, Daddy Herbert, who I don’t remember ever speaking to me, would have been a little younger than her, but like most old people like that, he faded away from my view and I never saw him again either.
My grandmother had two sisters and one brother. They were all very opinionated, uneducated, smart women, who were always arguing and fighting and not speaking to one another. Aunt Adelle who was the oldest was also the darkest along with her brother who was called, Brother. She was also the smartest and whatever she did and however she raised and taught her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, they thrived and were ambitious people, most of them became successful businessmen and women. I remember her as a dedicated chain smoker who looked, seemed and talked mean, but she really wasn’t.
They all lived in the ghetto, in Dorchester, but not in the projects. Aunt Eva was the second oldest, she was a very light skinned woman, which meant that her father was not my Great Grandfather, Daddy Herbert. Daddy Herbert was a dark brown man with what black people called straight Indian type hair, a matter of fact type of man, with a real stone chiseled face, in his 80’s and 90’s when I knew him. Aunt Eva was mostly a pleasant woman who was married to a nice man I knew as Uncle Al. She like Aunt Adelle, disliked my grandmother and stayed away from her.
I would know and see her more as I got older, I never knew much about her, but she lived in the what was then the new Elderly Homes building at Warren Street and Melnea Cass Blvd, in Roxbury, so I would go and see her and Uncle Al from time to time in the mid-sixties. They did not as far as I could see have any children. I liked them a lot.
Uncle or Brother, as he was called by everyone I knew, was my grandmothers younger brother. I knew him pretty well as a child and teenager. He lived up the street from the Whittier Street Housing Projects where I lived, on the corner outside one of the liqueur stores on Tremont Street. Uncle was a dark skinned man who looked like his mother and grandmother and was the same color as my mother. He was a nice man who liked to drink a lot, but married a nice woman named Harriet and had a number of children, one of whom Richard would marry into a family I would marry into years later, thus his children would be my cousins and the cousins of my second wife. They are eclectic, interesting people and for the most part very well educated.
Uncle’s main claim to fame as told by my grandmother was that when the women he lived with in the 1980’s died, Uncle or Brother was so drunk that he didn’t know that she was in their apartment dead for a week. They were all these, children and grandchildren of slaves, is some ways all broken people; but the worst was my grandmother.
When you have the type of evil that slavery was then the degradation of that evil slowly manifests itself in the sexual degradation and depravity between master and slave and it worked both ways. When you have a brutalized and predatorily sexually degraded slave, man or woman, then they are bringing that brutality and predatory sexual degradation back to the Slave quarters.
The Slave quarters were not a place of great happiness. Slaves were living in a brutal world of whips, chains, castrations, shootings, killings, lynching’s, rapes, and violent death. There was no happiness, no joy, and even though the children and Black concubines of the slave master had it somewhat easier, by working in the big house of on a more skilled job, they still had to live and sleep together in the slave quarters with the field slaves.
The Slave Quarters were a mixture of slaves, all living together, just like in the ghetto or projects of today. A mixture of good and evil, predator and prey, gay and straight, pedophile and God fearing slaves, good and bad. Violence and sex were dominant in the slave quarters, sex because it was the only joy and relief available to the average field slave, and violence because it was the only way for slave men to express their diminished manhood; and just like any poor community in the ghetto or project, everyone lived on top of one another. Think of the slave quarters as the ghetto or projects of today, except there’s no jobs in the neighborhoods.
The family life of slaves was diminished by the breaking up and selling off of mothers, fathers and children. It was best not to become too close to one’s child, it was better not to bond or love a child or a man or a woman, and so the brutalizing of children, and slaves committing incest with their children and other children, and the fighting and killing of one another was not uncommon. Jealousies, class distinctions and hatred between slaves who were lighter and slaves who were darker dominated slave row, thus the slave quarters became a place of distrust and mistrust.
Some slave quarter households on slave row would have multiple types of children. There would be the mother and she would have some children by the master and some children by the various men she would have during her childbearing years, some men dark skinned, some men brown skinned, some men very light skinned, and so the connection between mother and child and father and child grew distant, the bonding levels of black men and women almost became non-existent and the breakdown of Black families began as early as the 17th century in America, as the children of mothers and the men of mothers were sold to distant plantations, distant cities and different southern states.
By 1800 in America many Black people were not Black, unless they were just brought over from Africa on the Slave ships, more Black people than not, were a mixture of Black and White blood on the plantations and farms of the South and lower South, and along with some Native American blood, there were various colors of blackness, much like you see today. The book and film The Color Purple, by the great Alice Walker and Catfish Row in Porgy and Bess, even though both the musical, the book and film were based on characters who lived in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, they were not far from the way it was during slavery and even worse because just like in the ghetto’s and projects of America’s urban cities, you had thousands of poor people living on top of one another, feeding on one another in small confined spaces, where physical hunger and sexual hunger were the same thing, and the weak are prey for the stronger and more powerful black and white predators.
As the Nazi’s in Nazi Germany portrayed to the world that the Jews living in the Jewish Ghettos and those working in the concentration camps were happy, safe and often just normal, well paid skilled workers. So did the American antebellum Southerner, as in the film Gone With the Wind, portray the American Black Slave as a happy, dancing and singing all day nigger, their only worry was being what white folks wanted or needed, and 70% of white people in America today still can’t understand what all the fuss about slavery was, them niggers didn’t pay no rent, had job security, free meals and free clothing, what was the problem.
Well, the exact opposite in both cases was true, the horror and trauma of everyday living in the Jewish case maybe lasted for ten to fifteen years of oppression, not even one generation of horror, and in the African American Slave and my descendants case more than twenty to thirty generations of oppression, one hundred lifetimes of horror, and as in the Jewish Ghettos and Concentration camps where the strong preyed on the weak, sexually and physically, there were Jewish SS troops and collaborators, who contributed greatly to the horror of six million exterminated Jews, and in the Slave quarters, there were Black slaves who worked against the wellbeing of the Slave, by telling the master or overseer of any up-risings, any slave revolts, any conspiracies, any runaways, any abuses against the authority of White people and contributed to hundreds of thousands of lynching’s, castrations and killings of slaves, throughout the South for over two hundred years.
You have to remember that North American slavery lasted for two hundred and twenty some odd years and produced the worst in all involved, and as in every community, city, nation and culture across the world, there are good people and there are bad people and because violence, brutality, rape, and death do not usually bring out the best in people, American Black Slavery produced generations of not only intergenerational poverty, and institutional trauma, but also, intergenerational violence; and although religion was used to subjugate the American Black Slave, the American Black Slave used the words of God and the Bible against the slave system, freeing him and herself of slavery long before the Emancipation of Abraham Lincoln. Those slaves were usually able to produce people whose intergenerational belief in God and the words of the Bible sustained them through, slavery, reconstruction, Jim Crow, The Ku Klux Klan, segregation, the civil rights era and today, and church and the preachers and marching for our civil rights became a central theme and way of life for those descendants of Slaves, and those descendants produced the best and brightest African Americans devoted to the Church and it’s teachings. Martin Luther King, Jr, came from that group of Slaves.
I did not in my mother’s family that raised me come from that American Black Slave group, I came from the former. Until, God found me and took me to St. Francis de Sales church and school, there was no church on Sunday, there was no singing in the choir, there was no God at the Whittier Street Housing Projects, 159 Cabot Street, Apartment 157. There was no marching with or mention of Martin Luther King, Jr., My people were too busy with petty jealousies, who’s hair was better, who’s skin was to dark, who’s skin color was just light and right, who was ugly, who’s hair was good hair (good hair meaning white peoples hair), who needed to be beaten, who needed the strap, who’s head was going to be beaten against the wall, who was better than who, who thought they were better than someone, who was lighter then who and thought they were better than everyone else and who was blacker than who, as in why would Maria Cole marry that black and ugly Nat King Cole.
The conversations from my grandmother, mother and aunts, were pure evil, just old negative slave talk, never instructive, didn’t teach their children or us grandchildren a damn thing, and after I left St. Francis de Sales, I never went to church or heard about God again, until my California days in the early seventies, but that’s another book. As I said, my grandmother was the worst! Well maybe my mother was, but then she was raised by my grandmother.