Images are the best storytellers. I thought it would be a good idea to show some images letting you all in on what inspires me to write. What inspires me most to write are people. I love being around different types of people. I love listening to people speak in different languages though I only speak English. Culture is so beautiful. America is an odd place that has a distinct but also non-distinct culture. There are very few things that are truly “American” and not borrowed or altered from another country.
Music definitely inspires my writing. There are few genres that would be considered born of America. Jazz is one of them. Jazz really stemmed off from blues which came from southern gospel. They are all intertwined in their own way. I started listening to jazz when I was around ten. I thank my father because he is a music specialist.
My father grew up listening to all types of genres in the 1960s. My love of music came from him. He introduced me to jazz, blues, and rock. His profession was not in music, but he told me a few years ago that if his life had gone a little differently he would have definitely pursued a career doing something with music.
I have been fortunate to meet people from all walks of life. I am an American but get questioned often about my background. I have been asked on several occasions what African country I am from by Africans. I almost feel bad when I have to explain that I’m not African. I don’t know anything about my African ancestors or their native country. I have been mistaken for being from the Dominican Republic. It is true that I have very “ethnic” features such as small eyes and high cheekbones.
These type of questions led me to wonder more about how cultures affects those of us say we are American. Who are “true” Americans? Are they the Natives who were here for many years before the English settlers. Would the English settlers be the true Americans? How do others fit in such as the Irish, Scottish, and then Africans? What makes anyone a true American – the fact that we all speak the English language?
Finding my true identity is what inspires me to write. Should I be defined by my gender, skin tone, surname, career, friendships, geographical location, religion, or interests? Is it all of the above? I believe it is a mixture of all that was listed. Most of the time I prefer people to focus on my interests.
My geographical location has many stereotypes associated with it. I grew up in Kentucky, technically a border state, but people think of it as very Southern. Culturally Kentucky is very Southern. The city I was born in, Louisville, has some similarities to the Midwest as well. People say I have a Midwestern accent. I think I sound Southern. This is an issue being from the South. Those who are not from this region do not understand that there is no one way to sound “southern” despite how the media and movies portray us. Virginians don’t sound like Texans and Texans don’t sound like Floridians. The culture in the South is just as diverse as it is in the North.
I recall visiting Mississippi for the first time about seven years ago. I went to a local casino and had a great time. I don’t usually bet but when you are on vacation you do things you don’t normally do. The most interesting part of my trip was hearing the locals speak. A gentleman that worked at the casino had a conversation with me. He was very friendly but I felt terrible because I couldn’t understand most of what he said. I felt like I was transported to another country. His accent was just so thick and well…southern. I guess where I come from in Kentucky I’m not used to hearing people who talk that way. Most people I know sound like they are from the Midwest (Indiana, Ohio, or Illinois). Kentucky and its weird accents are still very different than Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi.
I see these characteristics and point them out all the time. It is just one of the things I find fascinating about life. I see white, black, Asian, and Latino kids playing together and it makes me happy for the future. A few years ago I had neighbors from Central America. One of the families had a little boy about five years-old. They were a great family to have as neighbors. The little boy always spoke to me in English with no hint of a Spanish accent. Then he would see one of his parents and immediately switch back over to Spanish. I found that so fascinating. It made me wish I was bilingual. I am in the process of learning Brazilian Portuguese simply because I think it is a cool language.
Living life inspires me every day. Seeing how people navigate the roadways, mountains, and rivers of life inspire me. We are all connected. Despite our many differences we really are all the same.
There will be more evidence of this type of writing in 2016.