Growing Up in the Age of the Hoodie

A self-portrait by Sarah Ladipo Manyika’s son at age 15 COURTESY OF SARAH LADIPO MANYIKA
A self-portrait by Sarah Ladipo Manyika’s son at age 15
COURTESY OF SARAH LADIPO MANYIKA

Earlier this year I decided to read Joe Brainard’s cult classic, I Remember. The book had long intrigued me for I had heard that it was widely taught in creative writing courses and was a favorite of many authors, including several well-known authors whose work I admire. I was immediately drawn to Brainard’s style, each line starting with the words “I remember.” As I read it, I found myself jotting down remembrances of my own, complementing Brainard’s memories of America with my memories of Nigeria.

I was enjoying this little book, reading it slowly, taking my time to appreciate the beauty and originality of the writing while remembering and reminiscing. It was a soothing and creative project until I came to this:

I remember feeling sorry for black people, not because I thought they were persecuted, but because I thought they were ugly.

I remember gasping.

I remember thinking, So this is what Zora Neale Hurston meant when she wrote, “I feel most colored when I am thrown against a sharp white background.”

I remember ugly.

I remember not wanting to continue, but continuing all the same.

I remember it got worse several lines later when Brainard writes:

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Source: The Root | 

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