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Lenore McKinney

Lenore Brooklyn Tabernacle

I was born in Brownsville, Brooklyn in 1958 to a white mother and black father and I can tell you that I was in turmoil over my race to the point of being ashamed of my mom being white and us growing up in a mostly black and hispanic neighborhood. When my mom and dad married in 1952, whites had begun to move out of certain neighborhoods. Of course we didn’t know that then. My dad was a jazz musician and was in jail most of my formative years and I didn’t offically “meet him” until I was seven. I became aware of the struggles when I was in grade school around the time Martin Luther King, Jr. was assasinated and there was this rumor that all the big kids were going to the schools to beat up the white kids and I was terrified. Here was me and my siblings: fair skinned, two of us curly haired and the other two coarser hair and freckles navigating through life in the 1960’s watching black history unfold on the news pretty much. We watched the March on Washington and not much was taught about Black History in schools. What we did see was a lot of struggle within the black communities along with welfare and welfare food lines but nothing was ever explained to us why, it just was. So I thought all black people lived this way and all white people were rich. They certainly didn’t live in our neighborhoods. I remember feeling sorry and ashamed at the same time coupled with identity complexes.

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