Undermining communities (and people) of color is as American as apple pie

Photo of Baltimore, Maryland by Baron Cole on Unsplash

The recent and shamefully overdue acknowledgment of the 1921 Tulsa Massacre, has led me to ponder how other Black towns have been (or are being) destroyed by America’s White power structure. Sadly, I’ve discovered that dismantling our communities and devaluing the people who live there is ongoing. The weapons of destruction vary. However, the underlying reason remains the same — the idea that Black Lives are not worthy of The American Dream.

Here are 8 examples of how this injustice plays out. It’s far from an exhaustive list but one that sheds light on our country’s record of violence against…

There’s a profound history (and good reasons) behind the names we give our children

Photo by Zach Vessels on Unsplash

My paternal great grandfather’s name was Doctor. Doctor Livingston. He was born in the year 1879 so I never knew him, but I do know he wasn’t a doctor. On the contrary, my GGF was the son of parents who were enslaved in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

I’ve been researching my family history for years and, for obvious reasons, I’ve been captivated by this name for as long as I can remember. Why Doctor? Was he named after Dr. David Livingstone, the legendary missionary?

I guess I’ll never know for sure. But while reading Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origins Of Our…

I’ve learned to appreciate my parents’ intentional storytelling.

Photo of my mother taken in her 20s (from author’s collection).

Growing up, I was always keenly aware that my parents were older than all of my friends’ parents. I was born in the late 1960s; my parents in the 1920s. Sometimes it was so frustrating when, my mother, in particular, raised my sisters and me in ways that seemed so old-fashioned. Yet, when I look back with grown eyes, I realize what a blessing it was to have been nurtured with the steady calm, seasoned discernment, and wisdom of two people who’d seen it all.

Although I can’t recall either of them giving me structured lessons in Black history, they…

In the wake of the Capitol Riot and at the dawn of a new Presidency, the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. take on a new meaning.

Photo by Jose Fontano on Unsplash

As our country still reels from the terror of witnessing a white nationalist mob force its way into the halls of the U.S. Capitol built by enslaved Americans (whose descendants had to clean up afterward), this treasonous attack has shone a light on the intrinsic nature of our democracy. Not only is it fragile, thereby requiring fierce protection, but at the same time, it must constantly be pushed forward because there are some who will stop at nothing to try and pull it back.

So, as we enter a time when The Capitol Riot, Martin Luther King Day, and Inauguration…


A classic German Christmas market, photo via pxhere.com

This is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, Where The Clouds Drift.

Alonzo brought his wife inside the house where he’d found a space to rent just before her arrival. This was home while they waited for an available apartment on the base. The landlords were locals — the Muellers, a couple who lived in the house with their teenage son and daughter. They rented out the top level of their home to servicemen.

Alonzo and Sal Waller, one of the other Black officers, had decided to share the two-bedroom rental since Sal’s wife Peggy had also recently arrived from…


Betty Smith on board the SS America, 1954 (photo from author’s collection)

Five months after their hastily planned yet beautifully executed July wedding in Washington, DC, Lt.and Mrs. Alonzo Smith, Jr. were finally going to be reunited in Germany (Alonzo had to hurry back to his post at Landstuhl Air Force Base shortly after the couple was married and Betty will soon join him).

This is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, Where The Clouds Drift.

December 1954. Betty was deathly afraid to get on a plane and fly anywhere, let alone across the Atlantic. So, what could have been an eight-hour flight was now going to be a 4 to 5-day…

75 years ago, Black veterans had risked their lives for America only to return home to the subordinate caste

WWII Surrender Ceremony aboard U.S.S. Missouri, September 2, 1945, National Archives photo via Wikimedia Commons

World War II officially came to an end 75 years ago when Japan formally surrendered on September 2, 1945 during a brief ceremony aboard the Navy battleship USS Missouri, which was anchored in Tokyo Bay. Amid much pomp and circumstance, stoic Japanese leaders signed the Instrument of Surrender as did U.S. officials and leaders of the other Allied countries. When the ceremony was over, a parade of fighter jets flew overhead.

On the day of the ceremony, over 200 warships representing the U.S. Navy Fleet and the Allies were either present in Toyko Bay or sat just outside in the…


The stories of Black servicemen are often untold. Here’s one of them.

Photos are from the author’s collection

This is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, The Cloudsmith.

Part One

June 13, 1945. As the USS Norman Scott sailed into Leyte Gulf, it passed several other destroyers that were heavily damaged. Some were missing smokestacks, others had gaping holes in the decks. Realizing that his ship received only minor damage, Alonzo was grateful.

The war wasn't over yet — something he and the rest of the crew had to come to terms with despite receiving news of Germany’s surrender to the Allies just a few weeks earlier, which signaled the end of the conflict in Europe. It was a tremendous…

Our nation’s classrooms have always been at the center of social and political battles but it’s time to change that.

Photo by Nicola Tolin on Unsplash

Fall is coming and the debate around whether we should open our nation’s school buildings or keep them closed amid a pandemic remains a heated topic. Viewpoints are falling along political party lines and that’s not surprising. Schools have always been used as a litmus test for public opinion, specifically, attitudes towards race and equality.

I’m reminded of the stories my mother used to tell me about her school shutting down for several weeks each year when she was a child.

Mom was from Cherryville, North Carolina, a small town about 40 miles west of Charlotte. Back when she was…

Homogenous communities are often the result of racist beliefs and policies that never went away.

Cape May, NJ, photo via Pixabay

When my family moved to the Washington, DC suburbs in 1970, the White family that purchased the house next door decided not to move in after they discovered we were Black.

All of the houses in our neighborhood were new construction — beautiful, spacious colonials with large backyards. Our almost-nextdoor neighbors’ house was nearly finished, filled with fabulous upgrades. They must have lost a good sum of money by backing out of their contract to buy the house.

Evidently, it was worth the cost of not having Black neighbors.

The way I see it, their decision was a huge loss…

Kelly Vanessa Porter

Writing a book and other things that I hope will decolonize your mind. www.kellyvporter.com

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