Thursday, July 23, 2020

"Show the World That We Have Money” (Sallie-Elizabeth and Frances)

In March of 2018, I wrote a post about a Black History Month concert where the pianist Christopher Gambrell was celebrating Marvel's Black Panther both because he grew up with Chadwick Boseman, and that the movie's financial success “showed the world that we have money.” Like I said in that post, one of the most pervasive stereotypes against Black people is that they're poor. This can effect their ability to get loans, homes, medical services, secondary education, or anything requiring a payment plan. So to combat that, I'm making today's stories all about wealth and two classic symbols of wealth: the fur coat and the diamond ring.

Sallie-Elizabeth Clayton 
One of the most Exciting Days of My Life and Unique Times of My Life

Back in 1990, I was working as a counselor in a program that serviced untraditional colleges and universities, and I was working at Peirce College at that time. My boss said to me, “I want to send you on a conference, a Black colleges conference that they had annually, would you like to go?” and so I said, “Yeah I would like to go!” He said, “It’s going to be held in Washington D.C. We will pay for your expenses. You’ll probably meet a lot of people there from Black colleges, administrators and everything. It’s a really good weekend.” I got on my train and rode myself right into Washington D.C., and we stayed at the Washington Hilton or it was a big Washington hotel that they have a lot of conferences at. Anyway I checked in and you know I didn’t go with anybody- we had a small staff at the college so there wasn’t any other staff people who could go. So I made my way through all the exhibits and freebies and learning about people and meeting some new people.
Well one night, I think it was the Saturday night, they have the large dinner and things going on, they had students from various colleges throughout the United States, African American students and other minorities and they did their thing, and they’re playing bands and showing things that they have learned in college. I came downstairs and I tried to buy a raffle ticket. I didn’t have money on me, it was earlier on the day, and I said, “Can I put this on my room tab?” And she was so mean to me. She said, “No you cannot. If you don’t have the money, I won’t be able to give you a raffle.” So I said “okay”. I went back upstairs, I ran back upstairs. I don’t know why I was so intense for being a raffle, they have them all the time. I ran back up there and got some money, I said, “I should have never come down without money,” and I bought the raffle and I looked in her face to say, “Nah nah nah nah, I do have money!” so I bought the raffle. Time for this event to start the event that night, and I came down and I sat at a table where I didn’t know anybody and there was this couple there from some college and we just talked and chatted, we were watching what happened. It came time to do the raffle. I said, “I’m glad I got this, I’m going to win tonight!” They outlined the prizes, and one of the prizes was a mink jacket stole, that was the third prize. The second prize was a trip to the Bahamas for a weekend, and the first prize was a full-length mink coat for a woman at the worth of $5000. They lady sitting next to me with her husband said, “well, I’m going to win this prize,” and I said, “I don’t think so. I’m going to win the prize.”
And we were just laughing and chatting, and all of a sudden, the lady won the stole and somebody won the trip to the Bahamas, and they said, “Now here we are everybody. This is the first prize. And we’re going to give this to some wonderful person, and hopefully they’re sitting down here tonight. We put our raffle out so we could see it and we didn’t think we were going to win anything. And so we were just laughing and wondering who was going to win it, and they called my raffle. And all of a sudden, everything in body kind of stopped working, and they repeated the number so the person could come forward. “We’d like the person to come forth, we’d like the person to come forth if they’re here and they have this number,” and they repeated it. So I touched the lady and I didn’t say anything, because all my senses were trapped- I was like a mute. I touched her and I pointed down to the ticket. I couldn’t speak, and I kept pointing down to the ticket, and she realized what I was doing and read it off. She screamed, “Oh my god!” The lady got up, ran to the front, ran all the way around the tables and everything. They said, “We have a winner! We have a winner! We have a winner!” She said, “Not me! I’ll show you, come with me!” She took all these people back to our table and pointed at me. Here, I’m sitting here, still mesmerized, can’t speak, can’t walk and these people gathered around me, pulled me up from the table, and said, “Here’s the winner everybody!” And it was me. They took me up to the front. Now, I’m not talking about a petty raffle, it had bin like you see on ‘The Price is Right’, that huge, and out of all those thousands of raffles, I was the winner. I’m still not over that after about twenty years. I still have the coat but I have not experienced anything like that before in my life.

Frances Bryce
One Ring and Two Daughters

I know what I was going to talk about: My mom, and one of the things she always wanted was a diamond ring and a fur coat, right? So after she died I learned that my niece had recorded her wishes I guess. The memo was she had one ring and fur coat so I wouldn’t need a fur coat because I lived in California. I have a sister so she was trying to decide who she should give it to and that wouldn’t work, and then I had a brother who had two nieces so that wouldn’t work. So y youngest brother had one daughter, so she got the ring.
And then when I found out I said, “I never wanted the diamond ring and so why did you think I may have wanted it,” and I thought it should have gone to my sister because she was the one who stayed with my mom, you know the last day. So, to fast forward it I found out that when my mom was staying with me for a while and she didn’t have her ring and I said, “Well why don’t you wear your ring?” So she called and sent it, so she thought maybe I was interested in the ring, which I have never been interested in a diamond ring or fur. That’s how the story ended up, and I told my brother who has the youngest daughter, one daughter so she got the ring. And I said, “You should let her know that the only reason she got that ring was because my mom thought I may have wanted it and she didn’t want to give one the ring and not have,” and so he never did and she never did. So that was the end of that story, but I always felt heavy about it because I knew my sister would’ve appreciated it. She loved rings and diamonds, and I didn’t. So that was my story.
Well, my mom was about the size of my sister, and of course she lived in the place where they had a different climate. So in South Carolina, you ain’t have a real winter and a summer. So it just made sense that she got the fur coat, which would’ve been too small for me in the first place, and was totally something I didn’t want, and the season didn’t permit me to wear it. So she got the fur coat, but she should’ve gotten the ring too because she really gotten the ring, and it would’ve been a great thing because she spent most o f the time with my mother. And my mother only made that decision because she didn’t want to give one, she didn’t want to decide if I should get the ring or my sister should get the ring. And there shouldn’t have even been that question aroused. It’s…know that I didn’t want it. So that’s how things go. And I said, “One ring and two daughters.”
And my niece had made the video of how she was anguished because she couldn’t decide who to give it to. And so she finally said to my niece who was recording it, “Oh. My youngest son. He has only one daughter, so that would settle that.” But I thought if my brother had said to his daughter that, “Your aunt should’ve gotten that ring,” she probably would’ve done it.

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And don't forget to maintain contact with the older buds in your life. If you can't be there in person, please call them, email them, or message them on social media. And if they're using teleconferencing or remote events for the first time, give them a call and help them set things up. Check in on them to see how well they're getting used to these programs. Buy them a computer or an internet package if they don't have one of their own. It's a human right, after all.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri. This drawing is copyright of Jett Cooper