NYU Black Renaissance Noire Fall 2015 Volume 15.2 - Page 131

FORBIDDEN ONES I dreamed forbidden ones, long-departed loved ones, spooked my childhood home years after Mom and Pop abandoned it, pristine on a hill in Hartsdale, New York. Hartsdale — hamlet of Greenburgh, where I slouched past white people like our across-the-street neighbor my father christened “Shorty,” a stocky Italian. I wanted to spring up like a daffodil in Parkway Gardens, black Greenburgh, two miles from Hartsdale, mingle with my people ripe in gradations of butterscotch, toffee, and ginger. Instead, I starred in Pop’s adventure — the first blacks to live on Lakeview Avenue. The honor we received: two white families moved out a month after we moved in. I retreated to the attic, tried to whiten my skin, blinked like Barbara Eden’s Jeannie, discovered I couldn’t color my eyes violet as Liz Taylor’s, my hair not Marilyn Monroe’s platinum blond. To grow up in a place where neighborhood girls — Italian and Irish — asked me was I Protestant or Catholic. I always stammered. When I couldn’t will my hair to swing like Marcia of The Brady Bunch, couldn’t dye my eyes blue, my heart shriveled, a dried apricot. 129 I, every bit a mix-blood as she, tasted coconut in my teeth. Leftover Almond Joy, I relished the flavor as I would have a tall young man, skin dark as black beans, pivoting toward me, my feet lighting his path like a runway. . BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE On a visit to South Bronx — age sixteen — I slipped into a dark alcove at the roller skating rink, my friend Jocelyn, three shades paler, curvier than I at fifteen, allured a Puerto Rican boy the hue of fried plantains, entreate d him to swim in her stream.