What's a real name? Okay, I'm long winded so pull up a chair, let me pour you a glass of wine and put on some jazz.
What’s your name? Is that your real name?
This is a question my ears and soul don’t really enjoy answering but for once in my lifetime, I have a stage to set the record straight. Everyone assumes they know my name….and it’s not Rumpelstiltskin Ha Ha….for I won’t be spinning any straw into gold. The truth of the matter is…. I really don’t know myself. I discovered later in life that my father of birth wasn’t my father at all? And to make matters worse….my grandmother I recalled presented me with an official obituary of my sister “Chiquita” who died when I was just a baby. The obituary listed all of my siblings including me with the name “ONDRA” meaning “man, adult male, husband”. In turn the name means “manly and strong, courageous and warrior”. My birth certificate was filed January 23, 1967 and the record was amended on August 16, 1971, four months following my mother’s death.
Where did Adu Jahmal come from?
Where did Adu Jahmal come from? I guess the first thing we would have to do is to return to my childhood. I don’t want you to ever imagine this feeling…. because it hurts. I grew up in a house with children who only shared the same mother but different fathers. My mother was a southern bell, and all the men in the city wanted her company...we were the evidence. So of course, the sibling rivalry was fierce. My older siblings had way more pigmentation than me thus they classified me as “White Boy” .... I was a real white honkey for sure. The children in my neighborhood to this day call me “white boy”. I was okay dealing with the name calling because it made me tough and I kicked a lot of ass.
But there was a turning point in my psychology about who I was, it happened during “Black History Month” in Ms. Miller’s class. Ms. Miller was a white teacher at “Anthony Overton” school in Chicago. When I look back now, I realized Ms. Miller was one of the few teachers that showed compassion for black culture. During black history month she decided to present to the class a movie presentation on “Dr. King”. I remember how excited I felt when the film began to roll. The documentary depicted king’s life from his early childhood growing up in Church, his excellence in schooling and education right up to the civil rights movement…. then his unfortunate death. The excitement turned into sadness and even anger amongst the children who watched the film. When Ms. Miller turned on the lights to begin the discussion…. a classmate whom I thought was a beautiful girl turns around and faces me crying and shouted these words,” Dr. King was a great man but a white honkey like you killed him.” She then spat in my face?#?WT?? What the fuck? What did I have to do with King’s death...I had enough issues dealing with my own mother’s death. That moment clearly set the stage for most of my adult life.
Did you find me yet? Just look for the White Honkey, lol
Black people never made me feel black….no matter how much I loved black history, honored black culture…. I was alienated my entire life. So, a little short dude from Brooklyn decided to make a movie about a black man that resembled me in complexion that strange enough black people loved. I assumed they loved him because he changed his name. It became a trend and all the brothers started the name changing game…. this was surely my way in…...and to address my blackness. I learned a lot from the Islamic religion, the discipline would later become my formula for working on projects and how to get things done….but I’m just not into belonging to any particular groups nor demands after all I’m a free spirit and I got what I wanted….a name. But you will discover even with me having a black name in the black community wasn’t enough.
Redemption for the girl that spat in my face! I used my art to heal my wounds.
While attending a luncheon held by the "Upper Bound" an organization that honored exception students in academia, I notice a beautiful woman entering the hotel...wearing a posh Chanel outfit....as I begin to utter her name from my mouth, she walked up to me and gave me a kiss. It was Coretta Scott King.