My dad shared some things with me. Why he got in the service. Why he took his family from Kentucky all the way up here to Spokane. They called it the ‘red line’… they want the minorities in one place. My dad wanted to buy a house maybe 5 or 6 miles from where minorities, black people, had to stay. And over the phone, talking to the realtor, the talk was good. But then when they met, he said the house was sold.

Up here, it’s a little different. You know where you stand in the South. Up here, it’s a very passive type of racism. My dad didn’t talk to me much about it here. But in grade school there was a fight. Fifth and sixth graders. The principal called the police on these elementary kids. And as I was walking home, making my way through the alley, a police officer pulled out a gun on me. And I’m in the fifth grade. He pointed it at me and I just turned around and started running. When I got home, I told my mother about it and she said, “We can’t tell your dad”. So, fifth grade. That’s when I felt different.

…I kind of learned to expect the worst things. That helped me to prepare. That’s how I protect myself. 



Portrait of James

I am….

…a coach. I coached the fall sports. Spring sports. Then in the summer you had camps. I did football and track. Did basketball and did some wrestling. Conditioning and camps. I didn’t have time to have hobbies but I’m not complaining. I really enjoyed it. I had great kids and hopefully [I was] a mentor to them. Say positive things and they look up to you. But I been blessed doing it, almost 40 years doing it so I can’t complain.

I am really laid back. I appreciate what I have. I’m not too concerned with what I don’t have. Every morning I pray; I start out with the lord’s prayer every day. I talk to God and it helps me during the day. If anything comes up, I feel I have the strength to handle it. 


Interested in being part of the project?

‘Indivisible’ is an ongoing portrait and interview project, sharing the stories of racism and identity formation.

Spokane, WA
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