This is a true story.
I was once interviewed for a position as a Professor of African-American Lit at the second largest University in Connecticut–I have a big list of publications on black writers . Two-thirds of the interview committee almost passed out when a white farm boy from Alabama walked into the room. One woman, who was a poet, thought it was funny as hell.
So here is my Black Muslim/Black History story. MJ and I were the only white people a big group of Black muslims from Chicago would even speak to, in Champaign, Illinois. We had to walk the walk, and we did.
One of my students in a class called “Intermediate Expository Prose,” –seriously–was the head of the black fraternities. His six room mates were Black muslims, who he said would never talk to a white person. Southern charm and brains can break down any walls.
Here’s some boasting here, but I blew it out of the doors teaching The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which I choose as a text for the class. The frat head loved it. When MJ and I walked back to our apartment one day, six Black muslims were there to say hello to us, in the park nearby.
So soul food is our food. Collards are soul food, and our food. Black eyed peas are soul food, and our food. Macs and Cheese? French food brought here by the great James Hemings. Damned if we don’t have a fusion culture here. Salt and Pepper, black and white together, we shall over come together. We shall overcome.