July 4, 2019KR BlogEnthusiamsLiteratureRemembrancesWriting

Detroit, 1969

Hamburgers and watermelon.

Mad Dog 20/20 on boyfriend Phil’s breath.

That summer, Marsha and I sold Black Panther Party newspapers downtown, hustling in front of Hudson’s like the revolutionary vanguard we knew we were. All Power to the People! Get your BPP newspaper! Cynthia’s sister, Monica, taught us the Mashed Potato, the Funky Chicken and the Down N’ Dirty Dog. Too young to go clubbing—we got all gussied up but had nowhere to go. Father, a frustrated surgeon, worked to live and lived to work. Once, we watched him do the limbo at the Leslie street block party. Mad skills, Dad We learned all the hit vinyl tunes-Heard Them Through the Grapevine. Marvin Gaye, the Temptations and Little Stevie Wonder’s tunes were at our Fingertips. Dianna Ross had graduated our own high school, Cass Tech. Victor’s older brother counseled Vietnam draft dodgers, then, he up and had a breakdown when his draft number came up. They shipped him off to a mental hospital and we never heard from him again. Joan eyeing Victor, claimed, “Only a BIG man can satisfy me.” She sold no more woof tickets after they hooked up. Phil suggested we procreate for the cause because ‘the People would provide’. We believed most of that makeshift madness but stopped short of putting out. “Why ya do me like you do?” crooned the Panther Party brothers we’d taught to read. We threw Mao’s red book at them. We were revolutionary wannabes; our fists pumping the air! Seize the time! We served breakfasts to children and demanded Huey (then Angela) be freed. We were learned lumpen proletariats, by any means necessary. Fat Dick Gregory got us on TV, although, Gil warned “the revolution will not be televised.” We smuggled a plastic M16 into the high school cafeteria for the Malcolm X play while Linda H. French-kissed a white dude. We didn’t drink much or have real sex (finger fucking didn’t count). We were book-smart and college-bound and hated being called bougie. We escaped the pig raid on the Party headquarters by a hair. Michael B did not; we attended his memorial. God looks out for fools and babies and, Baby, you got that right—