The first time I saw the band Straight Line Stitch, I had an almost visceral, emotional reaction. I don’t quite remember what it was that I was searching for when the band’s single Conversion popped up on my laptop, but I do remember wanting to jump up out of my seat and hop around the room, eyes welled up with tears, while the beautiful sounds of the band’s music came barreling out of the speakers. It was an emotional reaction predicated on the simple fact that, I felt, I had finally found a representation in music that fit me.
I didn’t grow up in the ghetto; I grew up in lower class, white suburbia. I was a reject to most of the black kids growing up, seemingly because I didn’t have the monolithic, hivemind-like mentality to just blindly enjoy anything labeled “urban” or Black by mainstream society. I was shunned for being smart, for talking “proper” and for not knowing things that were supposedly common knowledge among black folk from experiences in the ghetto. I wasn’t “black” to a lot of them.
On the flipside, while I was embraced by my white friends, I learned quickly that I wasn’t fully part of the family. I was the guy everyone went to for advice on everything Black:
“If I say____, is it racist?”
“Do you know who sings this rap song? This R&B song?”
“What do you mean you can’t dance?”
“What do you mean you can’t play basketball?”
“You speak so well”.
And while the white girls were petrified at the thought of their disapproving fathers catching them dating someone with my skin color; they seemed to not have a care in the world about jumping into the car of the badboy, white kid who smoked, drank, got in fights and occasionally shoplifted.
History class was bittersweet. I was always the one who “…brought race into everything”, corrected the teacher about facts and context all the time. To minimize the pain, I learned to camouflage; to observe and read white people, gauge what to say, when and how to say it. To be diplomatic, to not appear angry or violent; I learned how to deflect questions and how to segue a conversation to a different subject with grace.
I was caught in the middle, a catch-22, for most of my adolescent years. A fire built up in me and needed an outlet; rock and heavy-metal was my medicine. I could let out all the aggression, anger and fire I felt inside and no one would see it as such. Most people concentrated on the fact that I was one of the rare people of color they saw at concerts or listening to the music on headphones. But while all my friends were talking about bands they liked, and finding musicians they personally related to, I was left to live vicariously through them. The closest visual representations to me were hip-hop and rap artists, who I felt, I had nothing in common. The violence, the exploitation of women; I couldn’t bring myself to relate. I fully understood that they were trying to convey life in the ghettos and the horrible conditions that they had to live in; but that didn’t reflect the reality that I was living. The same racism and privilege they were facing; I was facing in a more subdued, under-the-radar- fashion. It was harder to pick-up on and even tougher to fight.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=De26XtRUCg4 – “Conversion” by Straight Line Stitch
So after 20-some-odd years, I finally found a band, that looked like me; sang with the same aggression I had and had the lyrics that represented a more universal struggle that all people of color were going through. I loved it and at 35 years old, had that moment of relief that I had been looking for all these years.
How All of This Began
The original idea for MidKnightCreativity was to create a website where people of color could showcase another side to them; a side that wasn’t represented in the mainstream society. The idea I had was to bring a bunch of other people of color; who were like me, and have them share their ideas, stories and thoughts on ways people of color could be more positively represented in mainstream media. I was thinking we could all come together and share our stories.
The idea for sharing stories originally came to mind from a Ted Talk video I saw, an African woman spoke about how important it is for all humans to share their individual stories; as this make the whole greater. I agreed with her so wholeheartedly, I made it my mission to try and produce this in my own way, with the people around me. So, the Midknightcreativity website was born.
However, by November of last year, I began to doubt that building a blog; stating my intentions and then just waiting for people to join, was the best way to go about this. After ruminating for a few months, I’ve come upon the realization that I am one example, of that different representation of people of color that I’m looking to find on mainstream media. By telling my story, my point of view, my experiences, I’m sharing another avenue; another pair of eyes, for people to see the world through. My intention is that by doing this, maybe some other people of color with join me and start sharing their stories and we can show society the kaleidoscope of various types of people that are people of color.
What Can You Expect to Find Here?
The focus of this blog is shifting to explore more of the life and experiences of one, suburban raised, Black American male; me.
I’m a history buff and while I’ve given a snippet of my personal history here, I’ll be dropping more of it as the blog grows with the intention of tying it into current events that are effecting; not only Black America, but also people of color all over. I’ll share my perspective on things here, but also make it clear that I am not the last word on anything for everyone.
I’ll also showcase my art, film and video here. My career intention is to create characters of color that are more well-rounded, nuanced and a complete departure from where most Black film and video seems to be going today. I love shows like Issa Rae’s: Awkward Black Girl; I applaud and champion her efforts to bring more people of color and their stories to the mainstream audience.
http://www.awkwardblackgirl.com/episodes – Awkward Black Girl Episodes
Writing is my heart. Above and beyond writing blog posts about film, video, politics and current events, I also will share some of my fiction writing here. I’m looking to create characters and universes that represent the world as I see it; an array of interesting and different people in situations that I have yet to see explored on film or TV. I’m hoping others will join me in the comment sections and conversations; and add their perspectives.
Here. We. Go!