Part 24: My Friend the Devil
Many months passed before I would see the devil again after one of our frequent mutual partings, the first being at the fall of Black House. Departing my duties as organizer of his ministry, I retired to my hometown of Fresno CA for a little R and R, which gave me a chance to see my children, siblings and Mom. Mom was a follower of Mary Baker Eddy's Christian Science, so she was blessed with spiritual insight which told her Eldridge Cleaver was the worst of all possible persons, and she didn't believe him for one moment. She found him disgusting as a person claiming to represent God, Jesus Christ or anyone else. Mom couldn't understand why I was associated with any of my radical or artistic friends, several of whom she had met, including Bobby Seale, Sun Ra, Eldridge Cleaver and others. She said, upon looking at them, they weren't nothing, had no class and why in the world was I hanging around with them? "I thought I taught you to have more intelligence than that, boy?"
She told me I didn't need them nigguhs, them nigguhs needed me and they were just using my mind. She said, "Boy, use the mind God gave YOU!" and leave them nigguhs alone. Of course it was hard for me to take Mom seriously because her real estate business was 99% black people, so how could she tell me to leave nigguhs alone? Damn near every black person in Fresno will tell you they bought their first house from Mom and Dad during the late 40s or early 50s, ( until Dad lost his license for misappropriating funds from their real estate business to feed his gambling habit.)
At the same time they published the Fresno Voice, one of the first black newspapers in the central valley. My father (who married my mother when she was twenty and he was forty) was a Race Man who had heard Marcus Garvey in Los Angeles, sometime during the the 1920s. Dad claimed he was born in 1900 and fought in WWI. He was born in Kentucky so we grew up eating rice instead of grits. Obviously he passed some of his consciousness on to Mom, even though she had grown up in Fowler, nine miles south of Fresno, a nearly all white farming community of raisin growers, with cotton nearby. My maternal grandparents were cotton pickers, my mom and even I picked a few pounds but found it difficult. Now I enjoyed cutting grapes, at least you could eat them while cutting. That's how children in the valley earned money for school clothes. Today in the valley very few blacks are involved in agribusiness, even though California's central valley is the richest agricultural area in the world. I call it the Neo-Nile Valley. How can we live in such an area and not be involved in farming and growing? Something has to be wrong with our heads, and I blame our leadership, especially black educators. What if we lived in a gold producing area yet were not involved in mining? We are a nation of forty million people totally dependent on others for our food supply. Black farmers are rapidly going the way of the dinosaur.
Mom attended a nearly all white church, but never allowed white people in her house. She employed white men to do work for her real estate business but never allowed them in her house. But as a result of her white Christian Science which she subjected many of her children to(except my older brother and myself who rejected outright her message, even though it affected us subliminally because every word from Mom's mouth was Christian Science), several of them mated with whites, to the great disappointment of Mom. When one of my sisters started dating a white man, Mom was horrified because he was a "broke white man." She wanted to know what the hell my sister knew about white men that would make her desire to date and later marry one who continued to call her "his nigger bitch," even to my face, but how could I protest when my six sisters referred to themselves as bitches and of course I picked up their language in my socialization.
But the most important event that occurred during my R and R in Fresno was meeting and hooking up with one of my childhood friends, Karen James, one of my sister's friends but I was not interested in my sister's friends since everything was based on ones age grade, just as I did not associate with my brother's friends, even though my brother is only a year older than I am. So I paid little attention to my sister's friends even though they were beautiful--in truth I had my eyes on them as they later told me they had their eyes on me, and Karen was no exception.
During my RR we hooked up and became mad lovers, although I only had six months with her as her man was about to get out of prison and he was a gangster who was busted for operating a nationwide drug dealing syndicate. Yes, I fell in love with a gangsta's bitch, as they say. This was obviously a dangerous affair which only meant that I continued living on the edge as I've done throughout my life, the razor's edge to be precise.
But aside from Sherley Williams, Karen was one of the smartest women I met in my life, she argued with me toe to toe on every point. I have told of her in my autobiography Somethin Proper, so there is no need to repeat what I said there, but Karen challenged me, especially when I made the glaring generalities that I'm known for. And after six months her man was released and she had to submit to him and cut me loose since she was a material girl and I was a poor poet. After a few months of playing the other man and engaging in quickies while on her way to the store, I left Karen and Fresno broken hearted and found my way to Reno, Nevada searching for employment and being in the company of my brother Ollie and father. It would be the last time the three of us would be together in this life.