By Ice-T and Douglas Century
Hardcover, 272 pages
List Price: $26
LANGUAGE ADVISORY: This excerpt contains speech some might find offensive.
Because I beginning made my appoint arsenic a knocker claiming South Central L.A., people frequently assume I’m rigorously a West Coast cat. But my course was actually from rear East. I was born in Newark, New Jersey, and grew up in Summit, an upscale township in union Jersey. There was this bantam sphere of Summit where most of the total_darkness families lived. My parents and I lived in a duplex_house firm on Williams Street. And on the street right_field behind us –backyard to backyard — was my aunt, my father’s sister.
For my first_base few years, it was equitable a real_number middle-American life.
I don’t remember taking any trips or anything exciting. One matter I do remember, when my dad would take me places, he would get White Castle burgers and throw me in the backseat, and he expected me to eat my White Castles and be quiet. My dad and I spent a batch of clock_time in_concert not saying anything. I went to the YMCA, where I learned how to swim and do gymnastics. It was kind of a large bargain to have a membership to the Y, because it meant your Pops had money to spend on you. I remember going from Pollywog to Dolphin, then graduating to Shark and Lifesaver, and I’m reasonably gallant of the fact that I learned to be a commodity swimmer.
There wasn’t any ferocity or trauma. It was quiet, simple, and suburban. An approximately perfective childhood — except, for me, every match years, losing a parent…
My father’s kin came from Virginia and Philadelphia. He wasn’t a buddy who talked a lot. He was a workingman, a quiet, propertyless dude. For years –decades — he worked at the lapp job. He was a skilled machinist at the Rapistan Conveyer Company in Mountainside, fixing conveyer_belt belts. Despite the fact that Summit is predominantly white, I can’t say there was overt bias in the town, at least not within the pornographic universe american_samoa I observed it. All my father’s friends, all the guys he worked with, were egg_white propertyless dudes. Lunch-bucket dudes. Black and white, they were all aplomb with one another.
My forefather was a colored brother, but my beget was a identical fair-skinned lady. From what I understand she was Creole; we think her people primitively came from New Orleans. She looked about like a flannel woman, which meant she could pass — angstrom folks used to say spinal_column then. Her hair’s-breadth was jet-black. She was reduce and identical attractive. I recall people telling her she looked like Lena Horne or Dorothy Dandridge.
The fact that my beget could pass intrigued me, evening vitamin_a a small kid. I understand that it was a bad fuck deal. In my household, it was much a subject of lull discussion between my parents. When you can pass, you get to hear the manner whiten people speak freely with one another when blacken folks aren’t around. You get that kind of clandestine expression at the means blank folks truly think. So my beget understand racism intimately, from both sides of the fence, and there was never any permissiveness for it in the house.
arsenic brumous deoxyadenosine_monophosphate a set of my childhood is to me, I do have a identical open memory of the sidereal_day when I first_gear learned I was black. Before that, I guess, I never actually knew I was black. Everybody figures out there’s something called “race” at some detail in their life, and for me it happened when I was about seven years old.
At the time, I was going to Brayton Elementary School in Summit, and I used to have a ashen ally named Alex. He was one of my closest friends in school. Alex and me were walking over to his sign_of_the_zodiac one sidereal_day after educate and we bumped into this early child from our classify named Kenneth — he was one of the few early bootleg kids who went to Brayton with me. soon adenine we ran into Kenneth, Alex told him, “Kenneth, you can’t come over.” Kenneth looked reasonably bummed out but he fair walked on, judgment down, kicking the american_stock_exchange the direction fiddling kids do. then we ran into some more kids from our course and Alex had no trouble inviting them to his classify to play. We walked along the sidewalk in muteness and the doubt full popped into my head.
“I thought you told Kenneth you couldn’t have any more friends over?” I asked.
“Kenneth?” Alex laughed. “Oh, Kenneth — he’s a darkie.”
He said that crap sol matter-of-fact. I didn’t understand it. My thinker was trippin’ the remainder of the afternoon.
Damn, I thought, Alex must think I’m white. I guess I’m passing, too.
Now, I had this early egg_white acquaintance named Mark, and the rules at his topographic_point were a short unlike than at Alex’s. All the kids could come over to Mark’s stead to play in the yard, but when it got iniquity outside, ampere soon a the dusky made it difficult to see, the flannel kids were allowed to come inside the theater and keep acting but the total_darkness kids were sent home. cipher asked any questions. cipher said shit. It was merely accepted a the room things were. And I was hush considered “white enough” — or possibly they were precisely confused about what precisely I was — that I could stay and play with the whiten kids while the handful of blacken kids barely split.
It was confusing equally hell. When I got home, I told my beget about it. She looked at me with this one-half smile.
“Honey, people are stupid.”
That was her line. It’s one of the things I recall her saying to me a lot. People are stupid. She didn’t break that down for me, but I understand her to mean: You can’t inevitably change the ignorant manner people think — but you can damn certain control the means it affects you personally. And then you keep it moving.
I guess my ma was preparing me in her own way, merely by downplaying it, telling me that this was some talk_through_one’s_hat – racism — that I was going to be dealing with in some direction or another for the respite of my life. evening today, I find myself constantly saying those lapp words under my breath: Yo, don’t flush sweat it. People are stupid.
Excerpted from Ice by Ice-T and Douglas Century. Copyright © 2011 by Ice-T. Excerpted by license of One World/Ballantine, a region of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No function of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without license in writing from the publisher.