"Who ya people"? A standard inquiry in a small town. You greet an elder. You look familiar, but they're not sure how. So the first thing they ask is, "Who ya ppl?" At least that's how it is in my mother's hometown. My mamanem from Southport, North Carolina. That's Brunswick county, bout 30 miles south of Wilmington. Southport runs out at the water, so if somebody say they "drove through Southport", no they didn't. My people are mainly the Parkers (also from Wilmington), The Gores, The Hankins, The Davis', but damn near everybody black from Southport is kin in some way. When I was little, Granny and Pop-Pop's house was beside Aunt Inez's house, who lived next door to her sister, my great- grandma, Dottie. Beside her I think was Babbie's house who was the mother of my great grandmother. Our family church is less than a mile away. I was dedicated there as a baby, and said my vows to my husband of 14 years right below the pulpit. Baby Tyanna used to run up and down the halls of Mother Gwen's house, and Shona gave me the nickname, Yaya. When Mama went off to the army, I stayed with my auntie and her oldest boy treated me like his baby sister. My people sing. They don't just sing, when we all get together we SANG. All my grannies were musicians. Granny played the euphonium and the organ. Grandma Dottie directed the choir down to the church for years. My Mama was my first choir director. My uncle, my aunt, my sister, my cousin, and me all majored in music. I didn't always have an appreciation for Southport or my family there, I already told you how I used to snicker at the "Southport Accent". I love my family. "Parkers move in excellence", is a phrase my family always says. "You don't want no Parker trouble" was another one. Na, that one is a warning. Don't mess with us. You mess with one of us, you mess with ALL of us. We'll "circle the wagons" and it's wrap. We fight. We gossip. We laugh. We love. Hard. My grandparents were everyone's parents in the neighborhood when my Mom was growing up. My grandmother, may she rest in peace, was well-loved in the community. My 4th great-grandmother staged a walk-out at the white church and her and her holy crew got up and left in the middle of service cuz you wasn't gon' treat us like no second-class citizens in the Lord's house! We hold each other up. Willie Parker is the patriarch of our family. When I come to town, my strong genes tell the story. "Oh, I can tell you a Parker". You damn right. I'm Tyanna PARKER-West. Them my people.
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