Durham News: Opinion

Anita Woodley: Being played in the Triangle

Anita Woodley
Anita Woodley

A deactivated pimp in the early 1980s, the man I knew as my stepfather, B.O.B., often told me, “Game is to be sold, not told. But I’m sold on giving it to you!”

Into the wee hours of many mornings, B.O.B sipped from warm 40-ounce bottles of Olde English 800 malt liquor in our living room.

“Come here and let me sprankle some of this Game on ya right quick, ya feel me?” B.O.B. said, sucking the side of his gold tooth.

My brothers listened a minute and left. I’d always take a seat.

Mama would snug me in my underoos, knee-high socks, strawberry shortcake slippers, her floor-length robe, and a zipped winter coat with the hood lopped over my roller-filled headscarf.

B.O.B had remorse about his pimping years as a youth, but he taught me how to detect Game falling from a trickster’s mouth in Oakland, California.

“Wolf tickets and wooden nickels are fake things that are being passed off to you as real, by people who are trying to trick you,” he’d tell me. “The nickels might look good, but they ain’t the good metal, and wolf tickets ’cuz whatever he’s howlin’ at ya, there ain’t no wolf! You wastin’ time! Ya feel me?”

Then I arrived here and found, compared to the regular noise and violence of Oakland, California, life in Chapel Hill was enchanting!

It seemed the streets had no broken glass, and no trash on the roads; that the murder of Eve Carson down the street from me, was an aberration.

People I trusted with life and business decisions have been local entrepreneurs, seasoned visual artists, college student documentarians, performing artists, associate professors, agents, nonprofits, private/government directors, children, clinical researchers and health community organizers in the Triangle.

I would let myself freely identify with shared hardships of situation, race and/or gender.

While a great Durham-based attorney, Shelia A. Huggins, created my new work-for-hire performing contract, it finally dawned on me how Game works in the Triangle.

Black like me, I often heard, “we should stick together.” Men and women confided that they couldn’t “catch a break,” or they’re the “only black person” in a place.

With no guns, but smiles of familiarity, and my desire to share and succeed and need to feed my family, I let my guard down several times. The Game cost me money and time.

I lost some of my stories for a minute. Found a bunch of bad nickels and no-show wolves. There’s Game everywhere.

Such considerations were always hogwash to my great-grandma.

Instead, she wrote in her ink pen-highlighted Bible, “Needer (Anita) owes me fifty cents and she say she gon’ pay me back next Sunday. Sign here…”

She’d say, “Now, ‘Needer, I wrote this down, not on the count of I don’t want to believe you. But when it comes to money, I don’t trust nobody farther than I can see them. See, they got to walk away to get your money to pay you, right? Well, some folks just keep on strollin’. It don’t come back to their remembrance again that they owe you money. That’s where the The Good Book with their signature comes in. It’s for those whose hearts ain’t attached to their mouth. They don’t keep their word.”

Now I always do as great-grandma expected. Same hopeful attitude going in, but hearing with B.O.B.’s ear, and leaving with a twelve-page contract, instead of a Bible!

And it’s not that everyone has to sign off! But stories stick better than facts and I expect to remember these next time I find somebody trying to feed me nickels. #justanotherwayoflookingatthings

You can reach Anita by email anitawoodleyproductions@gmail.com, 919-914-0104,orwebsite anitawoodley.com. Follow her on Instagram/Twitter @JusAnitaWoodley.

Meet Anita

▪ Anita Woodley will be doing a live in-studio recording of her show “Wake Up To Stay Alive: Black Male Health Disparities & Police Brutality” at noon Saturday, April 23, at the People’s Channel, 300 S. Elliott Road in Chapel Hill. Free. Reserved tickets required, call 919-914-0104 or http://bpt.me/2526244

▪ She will be facilitating her last two free monthly “Forgiveness Guided Visualization” session at 7 p.m. Wednesdays April 27 and May 25 at the Vegan Flava Cafe, 4125 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd in Durham. Everyone is welcome.

▪ She will also perform “Wake Up To Stay Alive: Black Male Health Disparities & Police Brutality” at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 30, at Health Touch NC, 3500 Westgate Drive, Conference Center (Enter the side of 400 building - Suite 405) in Durham. Student $8 Advance/$10 Door, General $15. Tickets at http://bpt.me/2528403 or the door.