Jon and Randall talk with Thomas and Thomas about their book: Black and White Like You & Me – Join us with your questions!
Thomas C. Marsh
Nickname | Cookie
Born in 1951 in Laurel, Mississippi, I moved to Detroit, Michigan with my family as an infant and I’ve been here ever since. We spent summers in Mississippi to visit family. I had a public school upbringing but was firmly grounded in church. I have a graduate degree in social work from the University of Detroit. I’m married to Annette and we have seven children. My wife and I enjoy our yearly trips to Jamaica or some other Caribbean locale.
My nickname of “Cookie.” When I was little, I loved cookies and would charm my great aunt into making them for me. So I became known as her “cookie nephew.” The name stuck all these years. If you’re in the city of Detroit and you mention Cookie Marsh, most people will know who I am.
My ancestors can be traced to slavery and African roots. I realize the fear, anger, and hardship these relatives went through only for one reason: the color of their skin which they had had no control over. My Mother and Father settled into Mississippi because that is where their parents and grandparents were born. Obviously, they had no control of how they looked or where they lived during their younger years.
My dear, deceased Father, in search of a better life for himself and his family, heard of work at the car companies in Detroit, Michigan in the early 1950s. Can you imagine the courage it took for him to uproot leaving everything familiar behind? Can you perceive the fear he must have faced in order to find a better opportunity for him and subsequently for me? I adore him for that decision.
Coming to Detroit afforded him a job, a better way to make a living. But where would he live? The choices for blacks were limited to say the very least. My Father settled us in at the Jeffries Project which I tell you about in the book. He left the comfortable and familiar surroundings of relatives and environment and cast himself into a place of chaos and confusion. The Temptations song “Ball of Confusion” would have been perfect for him only it was created many years later.
Thomas F. Daniels
Nickname | Whitey
Born in 1948 in Detroit , Michigan, I’ve lived in in the metro Detroit area my whole life (except for a short two year stint in Rapid City, South Dakota in 1980). I was a good Catholic boy and attended Catholic school then went on to the University of Detroit. I’m married to Joan and we have six children.
My nickname is “Whitey” … now before you make a snap judgment about that name, it has nothing to do with race. Originally it had to do with the Bowery Boys. My brother Bob was nicknamed “Sach,” also a Bowery boy. As the name continued to follow me, it evolved into the color of my skin. I am two shades darker than an albino!
If we somehow had control over who our parents were – who we were born to – what choices would we have made? Would we want to be born in the same socio-economic condition? Would we want the same Mother, Father, and relatives? Would we want to live in the same state or even the same country? Would we have wanted to be Black or White?
For those of us who believe, this birth was in God’s plan. Heck, my Mother always said that my propensity to have a protruding stomach was due to the Heath side of her family. No sit-ups could ever conquer that condition. I personally always thought it was due to the amount of beer I used to drink!
But anyway, the point is why do we put so much emphasis on what people look like? They had no choice in the matter. It always troubled me that kids would be teased even to the point of bullying because of what they looked like. As former Dean of Students at Brother Rice High School, I would emphatically explain to the perpetrators the error of their thinking and acting.
I worked for over thirty years in an affluent high school where the students had everything they needed and wanted. One student drove a Maserati to school. Another was often late because his valet service was slow in bringing his car up to the house in the morning. As with Cookie, I grew up getting most of what I needed and very little of what I wanted. My point is this: so f-ing what!!??!! Those were the cards that we were dealt. Life is learning how to make the best of the blessings we were given and to use the opportunities that presented themselves.
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*E – explicit language may be used in this podcast.