Cultural Appropriation: An African-American Family’s Legacy
From Cleburne to Fort Worth: The Journey Amidst Adversity
My cultural interview was with my grandmother, 65 years of age and of African-American descent. She grew up on the west side of Fort Worth, TX, a small town by All Saint’sSaint’s Hospital. Now, at the time, called Baylor All Saints, her grandmother raised four children. Her grandfather had an alcoholic problem, causing both to separate. He had issues in Cleburne before moving to Fort Worth. Her dad had to keep bringing her back and forth to Fort Worth because the men had problems with alcohol. They also had many issues when it came to the stepdad back in Cleburne, but he still came through when it came to money. Being able to provide for the kids and bills.
Her childhood memories consisted of selling candy, and whoever sold the most got to go to a place called Hemisphere 68. Basically, it was Six Flags on that day in a time of 1968. It was fun going out to try and earn money to be able to participate in the trip.
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Passing Down Values: The Christian Faith and Economic Independence
She stressed adulthood family values in her home for her three daughters, Charmaine, Rachel, and Stephanie. They were to always look out for each other and to always stick together. Also, to be honest, and just tell the truth because she will find out either way it went. There was no getting around her. Being a Christian played a big part religiously in raising them the right way. She said when something was not right, she would always get a feeling of the lord telling her what they did wrong. Another value was to be something in life.
She raised them to make money the legal way. She raised them to be entrepreneurs and not make money the way society did at the time in the small town they lived in. Every month, she started this thing where she would challenge them to go out and do what they were taught to do. My mother, Rachel, the middle child, started off braiding hair. My oldest aunt washed her hair and set ponytails and my youngest aunt sewed dresses.
Legacy of Entrepreneurship: From Auto Glass to Tax Industry
My mother now has multiple businesses, from an activewear workout line to a photography studio and much more. My oldest aunt, Stephanie, owns a high-tech cosmetology school in Richland Hills, TX. And my other aunt Charmaine, the youngest, sells clothes while having her own lash vending machine. My grandma wanted them to have more than she ever did. She taught them how to stand on their own feet and not to depend on anyone. She told them to “do all that you can do, then when you can’t do anymore, that’s when you then look for resources.”
My grandmother did her own thing in the income tax industry. Her dad was an entrepreneur himself; he had an auto glass shop. He would raise and train her brothers to pursue the same career. He was also a singer and a spiritual man; he was a man of wisdom a man of love, and he provided for his family the right way. Her mom was an encourager. She was a comedian. She did all she could to raise her children even though her and her husband’s relationship did not work. The advice her parents gave her was to always be always manurable and respectful. Also, to be honest, in what they did, remember that respect gets respect.
Life Advice from a Spiritual Pillar: Staying Grounded in Faith and Purpose
Life-changing stories throughout her life consisted of getting married and having kids because it changed her perspective of just caring about herself. Now she has children she has to look out for and make sure that they are safe and in a safe environment. She had to make sure they were loved and knew they were well loved. Even with her grandchildren, one thing she is proud of is her calling by the man of God. She had to grow in certain parts of her life to get to that step. She’s also proud of the children and how they progressed in life. She said, “Just the light of the children thy they have gives her life. Stephen, her ex-husband, is the dad of all three of her children.
Passed away, and even though they weren’t together as man and wife, they came to be good friends, coming together when the holidays would come, especially Christmas, to buy gifts. Spending over 20 years with him, she knew it was going to happen eventually, but when it actually happened, it just hit harder at the moment. It brought tears to her eyes and heart mentally. But he would be proud right now with his daughters and grandkids and what everyone is accomplishing at the time.
From being in college to me in just being the only grandchild in college, I chose to pursue this founding nursing career. Life advice as a woman of faith and is called as a spiritual person to be a light to so many people who walk in darkness. She relayed that she was to stay rutted and grounded in the word of God. She said, “Psalms 119:19 tells us that thy word has I hid in my heart that I may not sin against you.” In other words, when I am walking according to his willing way, I should seek him first, the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and everything will be added unto me. She said, “When I put him first in everything I say and do, then I shall know that God is not a man that he should lie. Or that he shall repent that every man so reap. I should stay true to him!
Navigating Life’s Challenges with Faith
It’s not always going to be easy; the road gets rough and tough, and the hills are hard to climb, but when I continue to stay in his word and be encouraged by his word. Somethings happen not because of us but to someone else sometimes when we are going through stuff it’s not all about us. It may be for someone else, but the thing that she went through as a young person, as an adult, and as a wife. Opened her ear to what God was telling her. God says she would be using these things to export others and impact others.”
She’s doing that now as she sends daily devotions to our family group chat. Every morning or calling people singing songs with words of encouragement, the older she gets, this tends to come naturally. She said the lyrics of this song could elaborate a little more. “I want to help somebody to see the light today, and I want to lend a helping hand to show someone the way I want my life to be an example as I go because I may never pass this way again.” She said, “When I have the right mindset and things are coming at me, and I’m overwhelmed, and it burdens me down, I have to change my perspective. Because there’s power in perspective, when I change my mindset, when we have things we have no control over, we can change it. Work just had to be put in perspective.
- Johnson, M. (2023). Personal communication. Interview date: August 25, 2022.