Latest posts by Lauren Everett (see all)
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Kinnebrew talks finding your passion, how a man knows he has style and forgetting the safety net- September 12, 2018
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Earning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award has put Legend among the ranks of Whoopi Goldberg and very few others.- September 11, 2018
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The Boston City Councilor is the first black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress- September 6, 2018
“Don’t judge a book by its cover”, the English idiom is often used about jumping to conclusions before knowing the actual value of something. Cindy Wilson, author of Too Much Soul, took her own story and recently released her first book.
The Seoul, Korea native adopted and raised in a black southern family is the real-life example of the cliché phrase. Daughter to two African-American military parents and sister to an African-American brother, being immersed in black culture was inevitable. Having moved from cities like Chicago and Winston Salem, North Carolina, Wilson’s family settled in Jackson, Mississippi— where she first discovered she was ‘different.’
With Jackson, MS being predominantly black and white, Wilson rarely if ever saw other Asians. Having grown up around both communities, Wilson knew she didn’t look like either. “My white friends had blonde hair and blue or green eyes, they were the standard of beauty that I couldn’t identify with,” says Wilson. Like many who grew up with limited representation, Wilson’s differences were only further accentuated by a bully in the second grade. Teasing her to no end because her eyes looked different, Wilson realized “wow, I’m different and this is not a good thing because people are making fun of me!”
Realizing that this behavior is cyclical, the bully was once bullied causing them to continue the cycle of abuse. That didn’t stop Wilson from learning how to play the game. “Either I have to get people before they get me or if they come for me I have something for them,” says Wilson as she remembers her comeback to her bully. “I don’t know why you’re talking about my eyes when you have a dead eye” she laughingly recalls.
What better time than now to release a book about race and humanity in America? Although not directly motivated by our current political climate, Wilson knew that it was her time. “It was just my time to tell my story. My life is normal to me, but when I tell people my story, they’re always intrigued and say that I should share it” says Wilson. Thankful for editors, Wilson never thought her life was story worthy, but it’s not every day you hear one such as hers.
Often confronted with society’s need to put people into boxes based on race, gender, how people look is how they should be. That sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth when you meet this Asian-American southern belle. “God placed me in this situation, gave me this life, to question how people view culture and strongholds on where people should be based on the color of their skin,” says Wilson. She is no stranger to being questioned about her background, and her close relationship to black culture.
“Believing stereotypes serve a purpose”, Wilson says. People of certain races relate a lot to particular associations. Wilson struggled with looking different than her predominately black surroundings, while her black brother struggled with fitting in with his black surroundings. As she explains in her book, Wilson’s brother was rejected by other blacks because he wasn’t considered ‘black enough’ and was often told he ‘talked white.’
“Because you look a certain way you’re expected to be one-dimensional,” says Wilson. As diverse as the African diaspora is, no other group of people should understand this sentiment greater than the black community.
In a country so black and white, when you don’t fit either description where do you fall? “Millennials do such a great job of breaking barriers and identifying themselves as individuals. By not boxing themselves in, they don’t conform to social standards” expresses Wilson. Following suit, Wilson doesn’t find herself in awkward positions when it comes to America’s murky race relations. She is crystal clear on issues like police brutality because it affects those closest to her, her family. Wilson says, “If people aren’t comfortable with me advocating, then it’s a personal issue and that’s their own insecurities and lack of humanity.”
‘I have a brother who is educated and gets along with practically everyone, but I know at any given moment his life could be taken. And only based on the criterion alone, what he looks like. She goes on to say “In my book, I talk about a moment where a guy called my brother the n-word. To know he could be that close to someone doing something to him…” A sentiment the majority of black America can resonate with. Viewing race relations as a double edge sword, she recognizes that black people want others to be invested but in the same token the ‘others’ get questioned on why they care so much when they aren’t black.
“It all comes down to humanity”, Wilson continues to reiterate. Being immersed in black culture, Wilson learned early that it is a hard pill to swallow knowing this country is not designed for you to win, as a black person.’
As an adult Wilson has explored parts of her Asian roots, especially now living in a culturally diverse place like Atlanta. Exploring Korean festivals Wilson was amazed to see the culture, how and what they celebrated. Joining organizations like the National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) has connected Wilson with other Asian-Americans. “I look like them, but I don’t relate” Wilson recalls her first impressions being around those who physically resembled herself. Questions like ‘are they going to accept me’ and ‘is it going to be weird’ filled Wilson’s head, until she realized they were accepting of her and even welcomed her.
Sometimes feeling like a minority amongst minorities, Atlanta has exposed Wilson to Asian-American culture and has piqued her interest; so much so that she and her brother will be traveling to Korea in a few short weeks. This will be the first time returning to her home country since her birth. Wilson says there are no memories or familiarity with Seoul, but is interested to see if there is a connection.
The number eight, associated with new beginnings also resonates with Wilson as she takes the day 8/18/18 to celebrate not only her book release but a ‘Cindy release’ party as well. Anxious to see how her book will be perceived and what readers will connect with, Wilson shares with me the many takeaways from her new release. “I talk about various things including trans-racial adoptions, humanity and its various perspectives, my relationship with my mother, and my most impactful relationship, the one with God.”
Although many wouldn’t agree that America is a post-racial society, there is no doubt that we are actively trying to move in the right direction. Wilson has the right idea when it comes to how we can continue to do so. “To understand what people are going through you have to start having conversations. Allowing them to be honest and open with how they feel about certain things; not shaming them but having these honest moments to foster understanding.”
To learn more about the journey of this southern belle and to purchase her book Too Much Soul, visit Cindy Wilson here.