Growing up in Columbus, MS I heard it all. From the Motown Sound to the Soul of Philadelphia to classical, rock, disco, Every morning I awoke to two songs playing on the radio – Minnie Ripperton singing “Loving You” and Barry Manilow singing “I write the Songs”. When I heard Minnie it was time to get out of bed and start the day. When I heard Barry, it was time to be out the door and headed down the road to school. This was my routine, my music.
I had been called many things. But the first time I heard “sell-out” and “oreo” was here in New England. I was unfortunately used to the racial slurs and gender bashing. But “sell-out’ and “oreo” left me quite confused. These terms were used because I listened to every form of music under the sun. From Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf to Led Zepplin and everything in between.
I recall one evening after dinner I was doing my homework while listening to Journeys’ – Separate Ways. The phone rang and it was a classmate calling to chat. The classmate heard the music in the background and preceded to mock my music choice and call me a “sell-out”. When I questioned that term, it invoked a hearty laugh with an explanation. I was told if I did not know what “sell-out” meant I was definitely not “Black”. What!!!! The next day at school it got around that I like “white people” music and that I was not “Cool”. For a while I was ashamed that I was not “Black” enough. I continued to listen to all music, but I always turned the music off when the phone rang:(
As I matured, I came to the realization that I was an individual who could make choices and it was ok if I did not fit a particular mold. I actually begun to appreciate my uniqueness. I began to leave the music on when the phone would ring. I even turned it up when people came to visit. Regardless of what flavor I was listening to I was no longer ashamed or afraid to be ME and listen to what tickles MY fancy! In conclusion, if you see me at a stop light and I am “jamming”, don’t be surprised for you never know what is playing :)