The Flowering Vine: A Family Story



Have you guys seen this commercial by a large cosmetics company that purports to tell the ‘story’ behind a given celebrity’s skin color?


In one spot they have a celebrity like J-Lo saying, “There’s a story behind my skin.”  And there, near the bottom of the screen, flashes the phrase “100% Puerto Rican.”

Or another celebrity’s “behind the skin” story is “100% Mexican-American.”

Better yet, there is a well known singer/performer who is identified as “African-American, Native-American and French.”

Now, in the words of Oprah Winfrey- circa 1987, “Caller you say what?”


I think part of the problem is the confusion that so often accompanies terms like race, ethnicity, nationality and God knows what else.

Granted, these are all human constructs but that’s a conversation for a different day.

Anyway, I decided to touch on subjects of ethnicity and race in order to introduce a new series that will explore the experiences of a Southern family with an extensive biracial heritage.

Just so we’re clear, it is my family’s story.

Guys, believe me when I tell you that I am so excited about this endeavor because it is a collaborative effort among several family members including me and my cousin Ron as well as our parents(his Mom, my Dad) –whom most of you know are full siblings.

There may also be guest posts or pictures from others in our family who might like to contribute.

By the way, the new series will be called “The Flowering Vine” and it will replace Ron’s Time Tunnel on Fridays.

Now, before you decide to gather the villagers and attempt to burn me at the stake for replacing Ron’s Time Tunnel, I’d ask you to note that “The Flowering Vine” is Ron’s brainchild and it was his decision to end the Ron’s Time Tunnel series.


But, that said, he will continue to share his amazing writings on his own blog, The Time Tunnel.

And so…

You know they say you should never mix metaphors.

Now watch me mix the aforementioned floral imagery with talk of food.

Here goes…

Like most African-Americans, the story behind our family’s skin color can best be described as a tasty gumbo or stew–No doubt a complex preparation that took years to perfect–albeit often involuntarily.

That said, for those of you who would like to know more about the recipe, I am including the following list of countries/ regions/groups that have contributed ingredients to our particular stew:

Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, Benin/Togo, Belgium, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Denmark, Italy, Slovenia, Czech Republic, England, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Sweden and Asia.

Don’t forget a dash of Native-American.

Oh yeah, before I go, let me advise you that with this new series comes a caveat.

In the words of my dear cousin Ron, “All the lies we tell are true!”


No seriously, The Flowering Vine will include writings based on historical records,  DNA ancestry reports and events involving real people and places. However, we reserve the right to include a little hyperbole, exaggeration, imagination and poetic license.

That’s how we do it in the South 😉

Also, when reading these posts, please bear in mind, that one person’s perspectives and version of reality are his own and they may or may not resemble or align with those of another person–even when referencing the same set of events.

—–End of Caveat!

I hope you guys are open to explore this new project with us.

Any thoughts?

Hit me up in comments 🙂

Lady G 😘💋
















Ron’s Time Tunnel: The Great Raytakka!


“I AM the GREAT RAYTAKKA!” Declared the woman with the jet-black skin and the long flowing black hair; both of which contrasted vividly with her white dress, in the glaring summer sun. She bolted over the green hill and through the golden meadow; leaving a cloud of fluttering, frightened butterflies and the floating, white umbrellas of the dandelions, in her wake. She leaned forward into the wind, grasping the streaming mane of the great white horse striving beneath her. She spurred the powerful beast forward without benefit of saddle or reins. The occasional “kick” of her moccasin clad feet into his flanks was the only urging the great white stallion needed to streak along at a breakneck speed. The glorious sight of Grandma Nancy and her steed was crowned by the white eagle’s feather that she wore in her cascading, ebony tresses; spurring someone to say once, “There goes Nancy on her horse with that feather arguing with the wind!”  Indeed, that “head feather” of Nancy Brown’s, “argued with the wind” whenever she rode her horse.

As she reached the crest of the next hill she shouted “Whoa Horse!” and pulled back on his mane, causing the great mount to come to a stuttering halt, rear up on his muscular hind legs and jab at the air with his raised front hooves. He then planted all four hooves; spinning around restlessly three or four times before coming to an uneasy halt. He loved to run; stand still, not so much. At the top of the hill, Nancy and the horse were a regal sight. “I AM, the Great Raytakka!” she shouted once more.

No doubt Mrs. Nancy Brown, you are the “GREATEST Raytakka!” with your feather “arguing with the wind!” The obvious question, however, is; “What is a Raytakka?” To be frank with you, neither I nor my kin knows what it is, except that whatever it was; it was first and foremost, “GREAT”. I’ve researched every variation of the word that I could phonetically derive. The closest “real” word that I could find was a French surname spelled, “Rataka”. I realize that my description of Grandma Nancy suggests a Native American or at least, someone influenced by those great People, but genetically, our ancestry is more French than Indian.

The next thing you are most likely wondering is, “Was she a little OFF? You know, Was she NUTS?” I don’t know the answer to that either. She referred to my grandfather; her short, stocky, dark-skinned and only son; who’d worked on the farm and in later years, at the Coca-Cola Bottling Company; her “Rich Black Millionaire”, or as she pronounced it, “Millonare”. He was Black but he wasn’t a millionaire! So was she delusional? I don’t know but I do know that she was “GREAT” and she was “THE RAYTAKKA” and her feather “argued with the wind”!

What about your feather, does it “argue with the wind” or does it just lie flaccidly? Nancy’s feather “argued with the wind”. There are those of us whose feathers are, “in the wind,” but that’s not the same thing. A feather “in the wind” goes where the wind goes. It is tossed to-and-fro, and hither-and-tither, but Nancy’s feather had somewhere to go! It had a destination and was determined to get there even if it had to go against the wind, or “argue with the wind.”  What about your feather? Is it a “feather in the wind” or does it, “argue with the wind” like the one belonging to the “GREAT RAYTAKKA?”