Written by: RaeVen Ridgell, O’Neill MPA candidate
“Gimme a five, on the Black hand side.”
As a child, we used to say this chant gleefully. It was natural to do the entire chant as we played hand games in my grandmother’s front yard. Under her eye, we joyed in the summertime. It was the only time of year I was able to spend with my Indiana family since I lived full time in Arizona. I used to love catching fireflies, running around, and singing loudly in family talent shows to Motown.
These memories are not exclusive to me, they are a common family theme; however, summer always delineated when we got to the Fourth of July. My family didn’t celebrate the Fourth. I knew that it was because at the time of America’s Independence, my people weren’t free, but I would never truly fathom what this all meant until I became an adult.
The indoctrination of “on the Black hand side” was my culture’s way of reminding me to bask in the glow of my melanin. The trips to Indiana were so I would be able to spend time around my family and our Black community, but my grandmother’s watchful eye was because she had witnessed cruel things happen to little Black kids if they went too far into the white neighborhoods.
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