Prison Radio
Izell Robinson

This is Izell Robinson, Minnesota inmate number 210006. And this is part two to the series of the parallel lives of North and Kyle, one city, two broken families, and adolescent years of racism versus desired success.

However, unlike North, Kyle wasn’t born in Minnesota. She was actually born and raised in Kansas City, MO until her family moved to South Minneapolis in 1948. Kyle’s parents were initially strapped in financial hardship. This caused them to live very poor most of the time in both Kansas and Minnesota. The family was huge, and they have problems keeping stable house before moving to Minnesota.

And as a result, the children experienced life in an orphanage. While residing in Minnesota, a similar story took shape. Kyle’s dad left, and her mom attempted suicide. Once again, the children found themselves in an orphanage. Kyle was also a dark-skinned female who went through a lot of condemnation by friends, family, and outsiders as a consequence of her shade.

In fact, she suffered ridicule from the white neighbor children who would use expletives such as the N-word, Blackie, and pickaninny, which are words that, at the time, was foreign to Kyle’s understanding but would later become a normal expectation of her identification by whites along with some immature blacks.

In Minnesota, Kyle was under scrutiny from several adults in her life. Her mother expected her to be the caretaker for her siblings because of her being the eldest. Doctors and nurses examined her body and made comments about her malnutrition. Social workers she saw as a pest or vermin comparable to roaches that she came to see as her enemy. Yet in her father, she felt pride as he graduated from the University of Minnesota and worked hard to get their family in a better position.

It was because of her negative experiences that Kyle experimented with lightening her skin and imagining being white. Interestingly, she speaks of going from a black Baptist background to a Catholic, which caused one big culture shock as she attended Catholic school. She also attempted to formulate friendships with white friends, but those friendships were disconnected due to their rejection of her.

Now as a result of that rejection, she gravitated towards black friends. Later in life, these friends would experience all the tragedies and misfortunes of life. Her epiphany came through the bus drivers who would pass her and the white riders who would refuse to sit by her. She was also deluded by the thought of her Catholic school uniform and perceived white religion somehow obscured blackness. In reality, she grew up absorbed and the idea that blackness was something bad.

This has been part two, hope you took something from it and enjoyed it. And there’ll be two more parts. Thank you.

These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.