Memphis, Memphis, Memphis, Memphis. The most beautiful land in the world!
I could have chosen anywhere in the world to raise my family, but we chose Memphis and it chose us! The soul that is weaved throughout the people, food, and music makes for an undeniable culture like no other. Sitting on the banks of the Mississippi River and filled with historical significance, why wouldn’t I choose Memphis?
Memphis is magic!
Everywhere we look, I can see my children, my husband, and myself. Memphis is sixty-four percent Black, and that is heavily reflected. My son can see himself in Ja Morant, the starting point guard for the Grizzlies. My daughter can see herself in her school teacher who shares the same hairstyle, locs. My husband and I can find ourselves in the many elected officials and small business owners who are motivated to lead a thriving community. Even as we walk along our streets, we find murals of people that look like us and the history of those that came before us. Our Blackness is not hidden.
The Blackness of Memphis is so illuminated that it is the culture, not the sub-culture, but the CULTURE of Memphis. That Memphis slang that you hear, that’s Black, baby! Those gold grills and random R’s in words, that’s Memphis, mane. I don’t have to worry about whether or not my children see themselves reflected in their community. I don’t have to worry about whether or not they’re assimilated enough to receive less judgment. I don’t have to worry about whether or not they’re the minority in whatever space they hold interest.
Here, they are the majority.
Walking in Memphis, my children know they walk in the footsteps of change makers and community leaders. Like walking through Orange Mound, the first Black community built by and for Black Americans. Memphis is history. They are also able to recognize the importance Memphis had in the Civil Rights Movement, from eating in The Four Way, the same place where Dr. King would eat during his time here, to touring the Civil Rights Museum and Lorraine Hotel to witness history. The History doesn’t stop with Civil Rights; it also includes the birth of that soulful and funky sound where musicians from all over had to stop to taste that magic. Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Ann Peebles, Otis Redding are just a few of the musicians to come out of Memphis. Visiting Stax Museum, my children are able to tap into that soul.
They are not only inspired by more notable Memphis figures, like Morgan Freeman, Aretha Franklin, Benjamin Hooks, Penny Hardaway, and Juicy J, but my children can also be inspired by important community leaders like Bobby and Derravia Rich of Black Seeds Urban Farm. They can also be submerged in the arts community. Having the access to witness and learn from artists such as Toonky Berry, Jamond Bullock, We Tight Knit, Mia Saine, Talibah Safiya, Tone Collective, Eso Tolson, Collage Dance Collective, and so many more! This is city is bursting at the seams with Black-owned businesses.
This city is a mirror for my family. We are not lost, we are not hidden. We are home.
Just like any other home, this home calls for improvement. Improvements that call for updated and reconstructed policy changes and active resources and opportunities that allow our neglected Memphis neighborhoods to thrive is needed immediately. Continuing to advocate for the rich Memphis soil and water supply is immediately needed. Funding and supplying the public school system with the necessary teachers, tools, and resources for our children to succeed in educational opportunities is immediately needed.
Yes, this city needs all of these things and more but what is not lacking is love, the love to uplift and expand our communities. Memphians want better and are not accepting of what has been given. They know more can be done, and you can find them creating the more out of what has been given.
Memphians are a prideful bunch, quick to throw up the “M” and recite a Three Six Mafia or Playa Fly lyric. Again, why wouldn’t I choose Memphis? This city is beautiful. The soul is true. Memphis is so dynamic that no two will ever share the same experience but the experience will be nourishing. I am proud that we chose this MidSouth city to raise our children in. I am sure that the Memphis Sands that run through their veins will make them the most magical children in the world.