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  • LaShonda Cooks

September 15

For the past two years, September 15th, my granny's birthday, has been marked by amazing milestones. Last year, I was in Boston celebrating my first major gallery installation at my alma mater. This year, I was celebrating at my first art festival installation. The irony did not escape me. Granny was known by most of the family as Kidd or Aunt Kidd due her zest for life and humor. It's like she's been winking from above. Laughing at the joy of walking in your passion and creating something of my own. 

She was an entrepreneur. Her husband got sick with cancer when my mom was a little girl. She said that God asked her what would she do if he were to die and she had a vision of doing fancy finger waves. Stories like these she passed down to my mom. She eventually ran her own beauty salon. I can still remember the crisp scent of the hot straightening combs and the freshly pressed hair of my childhood. 

Last year, I noted her birth anniversary during my artist talk. I mentioned how she always had to fight for herself. As the darkest skinned daughter among several sisters, she was often taunted and called things like "blackie" or "black mare." She learned how to defend herself early on, which probably shaped her robust sense of self and humor. 

Other stories passes down directly to my sister and I. 

I was in high school when she died. And a bit of a brat. I remember being annoyed as a kid when we went to DisneyWorld. She was in a wheelchair so we entered all of the rides backwards. Instead of realizing how awesome it was to literally skip the lines, I just wanted to be like everyone else. 

Today I give anything to tell my younger self to be nice, cherish those moments, sit at her feet and lap up as much wisdom and knowledge as you can. I miss her dearly. She loved my sister and I so much and had so much pride in what we could accomplish. Hope we make her proud. 


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