Traveling to Etesta: In Jackson, Mississippi

On May 31st I drove into Jackson, Mississippi to create my radical homeplace for the next couple days. My larger project is to explore Mississippi with my co/researcher Etesta on my mind. Mississippi is where Etesta spent the first 12 years of her life.

With Jackson being the capital of Mississippi, I am interested in the politics, the news, the economic policies, the education system, and the feel of the town. Additionally, Jackson is overwhelming a chocolate city. Named after once president and slave owner Andrew Jackson, Jackson is now known by the slogan: “Jackson, Mississippi: City with Soul.” This slogan was given to the city because Jackson has been the epicenter of numerous prominent blues, gospel, and jazz musicians.

Located in the Northeast corner of Mississippi on the Pearl River, Jackson is one of the  few capital city in the U.S. to sit atop of a volcano. The Jackson Volcano is rumored to have been extinct for the last 66 million years.

It is only fitting that as I study my mother’s story I start in a place where the earth once turned with lava. As I journey around the city of Jackson today I hope to find Etesta in the people, food, and weather.

Carlos Rogers

I Googled the name Carlos and most of the beautiful faces that appeared were men from Latino/Hispanic backgrounds. It pained me to see your name was not among the sea of faces. Because you were my early Google. When I went to ask you questions like “can you help get the money to go to Washington D.C. for the 8th grade field trip?” You would find the resources. When I got in trouble for having sex at an early age, you sit me down and had our “man chat.” When my dad and our mom kept going to jail or prison, you were one of the first to step up to support the family

Not having our parents around, you and grandma pitched in the most. Early winter mornings, you let me slide closer to feel your body heat while you slept. Only to ask me an hour later to go warm up your little ass car in the snowy parking lot of Crescent Heights. I would agree most of the time. And while I was in your car I would bang the Redman and Method Man CD with the track “Da Rockwilder.” Redman told us “now my neighbor doped up, got the cable hooked up, all channels, lift my shirt all mammal , you ship off keys and we ship grand pianos.”

We spoke the same language. We spoke hip hop. Actually you endorsed my speaking, living, understanding, and learning of hip hop in multiple forms.

When you would leave for work during your early twenties I would pray for you to come back home. My dad and our mom didn’t always come back home. As someone I looked up to and loved and respected I only prayed for you to return to me.

My brother, on this day, forty years after your birth, you have more than one son. Although Kyron is my nephew by birth, he is my brother by upbringing. Although you are my brother by birth, you are my father by upbringing. I think the world of you.

I would lay my body at the foot of the gas chamber if they ever tried to take you. More than anything, I would give my life to save yours because you have given your life to elevate mine.

Let it told that October 15, 2014 is your day to proclaim yourself one of the best people in the world. I am because you made me believe in the impossible.

Korea in Black and White

Strolling down the Namgong a white man stops me to ask what it is like to be black. I pause for the cause. I think why tell me what it is like to be white, be worth all the dreams, thoughts, and material gain in the world. The only thing that comes out of my mouth is utter amazement that since I have been in South Korea for a year, all that I have been consumed with is learning how to please the good folk at my university.

The above is an excerpt from the piece I am writing about the lived experience of a black man in Korea in the 21st century. The 38th parallel, the shelling of Yongpeon Do, the first Black American president, and all of the politics of representation that come with reading the world through blackness come to surface when you read this piece of work. Please stay soon.


Earning a FREE Higher Education

For those trying to gain access to higher education, there is price sensitivity in the market. I stumbled across this post put out by the Hechinger Report, later reposted on Time Magazines blog about getting educated. 

The post deals with ways in which young folk could get educated in alternative ways, rather than taking out huge amounts of debt.