“ROOTS” With A Twist

a re-post from August 26, 2010


“I am more African than, you!”
(Athol Fugard, author)

Stuck on geography ... actress Charlize Theron.(Charlize Thiron, actress)


(Nadine Gorimer, author)

Jonathan Zapiro

(Jonathan Zapiro, political cartoonist)

This challenge has been hurled at me far too many times for me to count.  Actually the first time was in New York, when my French Moroccan dentist stated, “I am an American Citizen…I suppose that makes me “African American.  What do you call yourself? ”


When I moved to France, things started really getting bizarre….

Over the twelve years  I have been living in Europe, I have come to realize I have some kind of strange Karma.  The kind of karma that seems to propel Africans in my direction in social situations…The Caucasian kind!!!!

No kidding.

“I was born in Zimbabwe,” a blonde-haired, blue-eyed acquaintance states, “My husband is American.  I am more African than you!”

“I was born in Cape Town” says a fellow guest at an Obama campaigne event, “I have been an American citizen for 10 years.  I am an African American…you are not!

“I was born in Namibia… I am an American citizen!  I am more….”

I think you get the picture.

The Caucasian African American citizens I have met…and lately they have been numerous, let me tell you… seem to all be extremely possessive with the term “African American”.

Actually, I don’t blame them.

I’ve never been South of Luxor, Egypt, myself.  My family…both the European and the African…arrived in American before the Revolution and my Native American ancestors…well…you know….

What these Africans are not aware of, though, is that I personally never referred to myself as an “African American.”  Once we left “Negro” I stuck with the adjective “Black”.  Black American seemed more precise… from an American viewpoint, anyway.

I always thought the terminologies “Afro-“ and “African American” were simply trick bags. Some kind of underground movement designed to confuse and contort American perceptions of something.

Caucasian African American citizens are welcome to the term “African American” as far as I am concerned.  The ones I have met have families who have been in Africa as long as mine have been in America.

Besides, if both their parents were born in Africa, they would be more African than President Barack Obama.



Someone wrote me a while ago, asking what my thought process was involving my decision to move to France.


As an answer, I have decided to re-blog an interview I gave to Black Expat Magazine a while ago:

Delorys was born, raised, educated and married to her husband of now 38 years in New York City. She has lived in several US cities (New York City, Westport, Connecticut, Saint Louis, Missouri, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Princeton, New Jersey) and in France. Delorys and her husband have been living in the South of France for over a decade after having spent 17 years dividing her time between France and the United States with the intention of eventually moving abroad.



What do you remember of your first trip abroad?

My first trip abroad was the summer before my junior year in college. I travelled in France, Switzerland, Germany and England. Back then (and I’m not going to be specific about the date) airline tickets for student travellers was dirt cheap…so were the Eurail passes. I had a blast! I met other students from all over Europe. People invited me to their homes, so I was able to see a lot of life in other countries. I was surprised also, how things in Western cultures could look so similar on the surface but be so dramatically different when you “walked through the door”… so to speak. But I had a wonderful time and in the meantime fell in love with France.

 delorys cropped-author-cover-gingersnaps2

At what point did you become aware that you wanted to live abroad and be an Expat? First let me say that I am not comfortable with the “Expat”. I just don’t like the prefix.  Nevertheless I do use the word I coined, “Blaxpat”, to describe my current lifestyle.  Anyway, realizing through subsequent travel that there was a huge, friendly world out there, and that as an American, coming from a country with so many allies, I had the privilege to be able to travel almost anywhere in the world and be welcomed. As a black American, I enjoyed the feeling of being identified culturally and nationally as an American as well as being Black. When I discovered, life in The South of France, I knew that I wanted to find a way of living here one day. I never really thought of living in a foreign country until my first visit to Nice, France, in my thirties.

 Delorys Saint jean 1a

What experience has enlightened you the most since you moved abroad?

That learning a new language fluently, not only enhances your ability to communicate more precisely in your native language, but in others as well… as you learn them… through travel and social interaction. I am fluent in French. I cannot imagine living in a country without speaking the language. I would have to find a way to learn the language somehow if I already didn’t know it. Most countries in the West at least, have some form of literacy program.


 … And the most disheartening experience so far?

The demise of the American dollar!


 Have you adopted any new customs whilst living in France?

You know, I honestly can’t tell anymore. Celebrating Bastille Day, perhaps?


We know that you moved to France with your husband, did you have any children that came with you and if so how have they adapted to the expat life?

We don’t have children. But I’ve realized that if I had children, I doubt that I would want to raise them outside of the US, unless my husband was a citizen of the country where we lived. I would have no problem having them attend school abroad, after a certain age, but I feel that It is always easier to adjust to other cultures when you are firmly grounded in who you are. Family connections are important. Also as a black American, I feel it would be important for them to understand the unique history of our particular tribe of people in the US, and how it is juxtaposed with the rest of the world.

 Delorys and Allan

Do you miss any customs from home?


I certainly don’t miss Thanksgiving, especially as a black American with Native American heritage. Otherwise, things aren’t all that different here in France. But then, it probably seems that way to me because in addition to having been raised in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural environment, I have always lived in Cosmopolitan communities whether it be Connecticut, Missouri or the other places we’ve lived.

How have you gone about making friends?

My social connections come through my work in the arts, as I am both a painter and author.

Delorys 1

Have you (continued…)


Despite the roster of jazz festivals, art gallery openings, equestrian events and increasing number of high-end restaurants and nightclub; Monaco appears to have acquired  a decidedly prolitarian ambiance.

Is this a good thing?

I have absolutely no idea.

But the show at the MARLBOROUGH was impressive.

Fernando BOTERO

Richard ESTES


27 juin – 6 septembre 2013



The same evening:


photos by delorys welch tyson



This is a reprint of a Blog I wrote last year at the beginning of the tourist season here in the South:

J’en ai marre !!!!!

The tourist season has officially begun here on the French Riviera. What always arrives with the hordes is the inevitable and harsh criticism of French driving habits.

I’d like to intercept a bit with this blog before the Anglophones really start getting flagrant down here!

Everyone knows that anyone’s life can be irrevocably destroyed by an intoxicated or mentally disturbed driver on the road in any country by a driver of any nationality. My question is why have the French, in particular, been given such a bad rap as drivers?

I have been recipient many times of French driving hospitality. What I have found is that my French friends and acquaintances have displayed skill and grace at ever turn…so to speak. It’s no wonder, I later learned, considering what they have to go though in order to earn the privilege to drive in their country.

How may of you who have criticized the French actually studied for the French Permis de Conduire?

Drivers License

Too scared, right?

And I’m willing to bet…too broke!

Then, that means you don’t know bupkis about anything French.

Want to know how I came to this conclusion? Because it is expensive, difficult and studying for it would actually result in an evolution of thinking that would cause you to realise that you had no prior knowledge of what it takes to understand of the Gallic approach to manoeuvring safely through life in France. My philosophy is in order to criticize the French you should have been educated in France and taught by the French. How else can one understand the cultural nuances of a country which has the power to seduce millions of people through its doors, whether they be rich or poor, yellow green or blue, to a place which is probably the most complicated in all of Europe? Even people from rich and powerful countries are willing to test their fate in a country which for years will render them functional illiterates!

Years ago I took the driving school plunge…so I know of what I write.

I can’t overstate the fact that the pursuit of the French Permis de Conduire is an expensive, lengthy but profoundly informative study of the psychology of the French population. Believe me, studying this will enhance one’s relationships with the French people you encounter, do business with or with whom one becomes intimately involved. It will even enable one to distinguish a foreign driver from a French one.

Imagine that!

Case in point:

One sunny afternoon, a fellow student, who is also an American, and I left another gruelling session of La Code de la Route to stop at a corner café. As we approached the curb, a car came screeching towards us in a completely misguided attempt to park in a no parking zone.

Mr. America, hisses, ., “Look at that. After they get their permits, all rules fly out the window. How typically French!

My response was, “What makes you think the driver is French?”

He pointed to the French License plate on the Italian Fiat, and said, “Look… 06 (the code for the Alpes Maritimes)!”

As if on cue, two men emerge from the car, sharing a typically boisterous conversation in Italian!

Typically French, right?

So, this is the advice from yours truly…the Expat Curmudgeon Writer on the Côte d’Azur…to American drivers in France. Stop criticizing…stay alert and either take your bigotry and pack it in your little back packs and go back home… or just get off the road and take the friggin’n bus!


feel free to visit: thenovelladyfingers.wordpress.com

an excerpt from GINGERSNAPS: a novel

excerpt from GINGERSNAPS: a Novel


Chapter One

And the nominees are. . .

Aletha leaned back and slowly rotated her head, feigning a stiff neck, at the same time sliding her eyes–heavily lashed for the occasion–discreetly about

the huge auditorium. It was a controlled and practiced act of self-conscious discretion, as she did not want to appear so wide-eyed and childishly star struck, especially after all these years.

Famous and infamous faces were everywhere!

Elegantly and not-so-elegantly clad in other famous people’s haute couture, these show business folks were trying to mask their quite natural and inborn lust for public accolades with bogus airs of insouciance.

It’s all pretty political, you know . . . doesn’t mean a thing, most of them had said at one time or another . . . usually after having lost, Aletha thought, smirking to herself.

Aletha returned her gaze to the stage. She looked up at the podium with rapt attention, her large, black eyes swiftly frisking the two celebrities. One of them was about to announce her name, along with the others on the list of the very best of the season.

The long, dark, tall one–a veteran of the industry–with what looked like silver dust elegantly sprinkled around his temples, clad in a fabulous-looking Brioni tuxedo, used to star in her teenage erotic fantasies. Now there he was in person, about to acknowledge her–from those full, plum-colored, juicy lips, acknowledge her as one of the contenders.

The female co presenter, a dowager queen of a daytime soap opera, was wearing an inadequate little frock. It looked like something that Bill Blass might have sketched during his off-hours. The recent face-lift was a bit too obvious as well–girlfriend was looking a little Chinese tonight, Aletha mused, giggling.

“What are you laughing about, Aletha?” her escort asked, lightly touching the hand which had been resting on her lap.”

Shhh . . . Reggie,” she snapped, placing the index finger of one hand over her lips and slapping his hand away with the other.

Even though she was one of the famous ones too, she still found herself on those occasions pinching the tight flesh of her forearm from time to time in order to confirm the reality of her situation.”

The Veronica Stone Show, Bob Dennison and Kathy Myerson, producers”,

A large wad of mucous had knotted up in Aletha’s throat. She wanted to cough but had to seize control; only hours ago she had slithered into a too-tight Azzadine Alaia number, and she had no intention of bursting out of it for all of America to witness. The gossip columnists would have a field day . . . but then, they probably already were. They always managed to come up with something . . . even in a vacuum. She had to remind herself, though, that those same vultures were the very people who had helped make her who she was–rich, famous, powerful, and a more familiar presence in most homes than Lemon Fresh Joy.

“ . . . The Dabney Wilkin’;s Show . . . Maxine Tyler, producer.” Ms. Dowager Queen continued.

Reggie, her friend and lover for over five years, reached over and reassuringly held her hand. Aletha gently removed her hand from his, placed it on his cheek, and adoringly stroked the smooth, tan flesh.

He jerked his head away from her in response.

Aletha’ss brow furrowed for a moment, and she pursed her lips as she was about to register her displeasure with Reggie. She was hurt and annoyed that he had pulled his body away from her, but she had a much more  important issue to think about at that moment.

“. . . and The Aletha Brown Show . . . Veronica McPherson, producer . . . “ Juicy Plum Lips added.


Aletha glanced quickly around the auditorium to see who was looking at her–with envy, she was sure–then her eyes locked with Geraldo’s.

He winked.

She looked away from him, her chin raised to a point just below smug, and she relished the fact that he was not among the list of nominees for the first time in who knew how many years, and she was.

Of course, he had won the damned thing zillions of times and she had yet to get the award, despite being nominated five damned times in a row. She had no doubts that this year would be the year of The Aletha Brown Show.

She looked over at her producer, Veronica, sitting next to her escort, Derrick, whose arm was supportively draped around her shoulders.

Aletha grabbed Reggie’s arm, then awkwardly and comically ducked her head beneath it and placed it around her shoulders.

It was a far cry better than cheek rubbing.

Aletha slipped her stockinged feet back into her Charles Jordan pumps as she positioned herself to get up to accept her award–the acceptance speech was readying itself in her brain.

”The envelope, please.”

At that instant, something Aletha couldn’t see caused the Soap Star to stumble to the floor. The envelope then flew from her hand and landed across the stage. Juicy Plum Lips went over to help the actress up, and then he had to walk a mile and a half–or so it seemed to Aletha–to recover the envelope.

“Damn! What’s wrong with the old broad anyway? What’s she got? Some kind of joint disease in the old knees or something? Some people just don’t know when to step down! She should just retire. Look at her!”

“Aletha, calm down!” Reggie commanded.”

And the winner is . . .” Juicy Plum Lips began as Aletha leaned the heel of her hand into Reggie’s thigh as a support to get up, negotiating as elegantly as she could around her constricting gown.

“Ouch! Aletha, be careful! What are you doing?” Reggie whispered, grabbing her hand and trying to ease her back into her seat.

“. . . The Victoria Stone Show!!!”

Thunderous applause and Aletha’s own anger exploded in her head. That nitwit hussy Victoria Stone, with all those fist-fighting guests, had won the statue, Aletha raged to herself.

Tears threatened to leap from her eyes.

She glanced over at Reggie, who had a look of alarm on his face as he noticed that hers was now fixed in a contorted portrait of outraged disbelief.

“Are you okay, Aletha?” he whispered, taking her hand in his and raising it to his lips to kiss it. She snatched her hand away.


She couldn’t believe it! Her fifth loss in five years. She didn’t care how many people said that it was all purely political. It didn’t matter that she was as rich as milk chocolate, or that she had a gorgeous man who loved her–Althea Brown wanted that statue!

“The Victoria Brown Show my ass,!”; Aletha hissed, loud enough for her producer and a couple of others to hear.

“Who in the hell is she sleeping with?”

“Shhh! Aletha, look . . . you know you are fabulous. You’re still in prime time, baby!” Reggie soothed.

If he couldn’t massage her damaged ego by the end of the ceremony he knew he’d have one big, high-drama, angst-filled evening–perhaps week–even month–ahead of him.

“Look, your show has a lot more integrity than that Victoria Stone’s, honey,” Reggie lied, trying to pacify her.

“You’ve got that right, Reg.”

She looked around and caught Geraldo’s eye.

He winked, again.

She turned away, sucked her teeth, and crossed her legs. Her right foot hit the seat in front of her, breaking the heel of her expensive Charles Jordans.

“Damn! Look what you’ve made me do, Reggie!” she hissed, needing at that moment to blame the person closest to her for anything and everything.

Reggie knew it was going to be a long night.

His eyes fell on her beautiful breasts, which were swelling with indignation. At that instant he smiled to himself, thinking that just maybe when they got back to her place he’d tear that tantalizingly tight gown from her body and mollify her with some ardent and libidinous gymnastics.

An Excerpt from LADYFINGERS: a novel

(google images)

Another excerpt from Madame Authuretta Bozelle’s Guide to Manners Deportment and Proper Behavior:

Mating Rituals

 An Affair is Not the same as a one-night stand.  An Affair involves two people who are attracted to one another in more ways than the physical, although it naturally begins with at least a spark of desire.  An affair empasses a period of time in which two people get to know one another.  Romance is essential, meaning that one shares intimate conversation, flattery, engages in mutual interests and that both persons , for the time, are sincerely interested int the humanity of the other.

There are unfortunate times when one or both parties involved in an Affair is married.  Neverthelss, the same rules apply.  If they cannot be followed with the dignity and respect required between human beings, it is perferable to not embark on the affair at all.

NEVER…EVER let any person treat you in a manner which in some circles is referred to as ‘booty call!’

Hear this, young people?



Well-Known French Proverbs

On n’apprend pas aux vieux singes à faire des grimaces.This is literally translated as “You cannot teach old monkeys to make faces.”

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  • Rien ne sert de courir, il faut partir à point. Translating this word-for-word works out to “There’s no sense in running; you just have to leave on time.
  • (google image)

show up on time

  • On ne change pas une équipe qui gagne. This French phrase is literally translated as “One does not change a winning team.”

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winning team

  • Il n’y a pas de fumée sans feu. The literal translation “There isn’t smoke without fire.

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  • Fire

       Vaut mieux prévenir que guérir. This famous saying in French can be translated as “It is better to prevent than to heal.”

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Autres temps, autres mœurs. This translates to “Other times, other values.”

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  • Un malheur ne vient jamais seul. The translation of this one is “Misfortune never arrives alone.”
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  • hurricane
  • Vouloir, c’est pouvoir. Translates as “To want is to be able,”  Perhaps another way of saying “where there’s a will there is a way.
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  • where-there-is-a-will-there-is-a-way
  • Il faut réfléchir avant d’agir. Literally translated as “One must reflect before acting,”   possibly the the English equivalent of “Look before you leap.”

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  • alimony
  • Si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait. This translates directly as “If youth only knew;
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  • youth
  • if old age only could.”

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  • youth
  • which is similar to the English proverb “Youth is wasted on the young.”

End of French lesson number 1!

Kids 5a

(photo by Delorys Welch Tyson)

Enjoy the rest of your day!

Feel free to visit: http://www.thenovelladyfingers.wordpress.com

(image by Delorys Welch-Tyson)

Happy New Year