Anna Paloma Williams and Luz Kenyon

Recorded October 30, 2021 Archived October 30, 2021 29:01 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: mby021199


Anna Paloma Williams (32) asks her mother, Luz Kenyon (58), about what life was like for her as she immigrated to the United States from Mexico and raised her children in a new country. They also discuss the female role models who have lead their family, their experiences with racial discrimination, and the love that Luz has for all of her children.

Subject Log / Time Code

LK explains how she moved from Mexico City to New York City.
LK shares her first impressions of America.
LK recalls the first time she met her husband.
LK describes what it was like raising her first child with postpartum depression and the role the other women in her family played in supporting her.
APW remembers the female leaders in her family, who were her role models growing up.
LK shares how she feels about her children not having children of their own.
APW shares her thought process as she considers having children.
APW and LK talk about the way LK loves her children.
LK describes what it was like raising mixed race children in the U.S.
LK talks about the economic challenges she and her children faced.
LK expresses how difficult it was to watch racial discrimination affect her children.
APW expresses gratitude to LK for making her a Black Mexican-American woman.


  • Anna Paloma Williams
  • Luz Kenyon

Recording Locations

Columbus Public Library


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00:01 Hi, my name is Anna Paloma Williams. I'm 32. Today is Saturday October 30th, 2021. We're in Columbus, Georgia, and I'm interviewing [email protected]. I mom.

00:15 Hello, I'm Luz Kenyon. I'm 58 today, Saturday October 30th, 2021. I'm in Columbus, Georgia with my daughter and I Canyon.

00:32 Hey Mom. Hi, Anna. Thanks so much for doing this with me. I love to and, you know, I was super excited when I heard that story corpse was coming. And Chris said he wouldn't do it with me. But I know my mom will do it, but I have some questions. I know we talked a lot this past few weeks, but I just want to learn more about you and share you with the world. Thank you. One of my first questions was, what was it? Like? Well, background. Where are you from? I was born in Mexico, City in 1963.

01:15 How long did you live in Mexico where I lived there till I was 23 years old.

01:22 When did you move to the United States? So I graduated from college?

01:32 And I had to take it to New York.

01:35 The next day after my graduation party, so I we partied all night. Then I took a shower took my my advice, and we headed to the airport.

01:48 So, you told me the story before, but how was it coming to America for the first time? It was?

01:58 It was amazing. I was saying I went to New York.

02:03 Arriving at the desk, 8 airport was

02:11 It was I was just amazed b a different shapes and colors of picture and tell your people to defend outfits, people were wearing that have never been outside Mexico. City, Mexico, City, Mexico and standing in line at the immigration line.

02:32 Are people from all over the world was that was my first impression was wow, and then

02:44 I was my plan was to go to New York and visit every gallery that there was something to be museums Metropolitan and, and all the museums in New York. And me, and my friend, she graduated from college with me, and I had her at that. Her request or invitation. We came to New York. Would she have family? And it, we had a great time. Visiting know the museums and the first big event. We had was the parade Halloween parade and also whole day without looking at their customs and the people at the energy was just amazing. I loved it. It was, it was a very good experience. I will say I will say

03:38 Coming from a big city. Say this look just like Mexico City, but clean even the gods. It smells clean out here. I would you? I was just taking up this males. They view the colors, that the weather. I have never felt a hundred and five degrees in the summer. That was that was that was hot today hats, but I was everything. Was that a new experiences. I had a wonderful time. I'm glad that you came because it's not. I wouldn't I wouldn't be a citizen. Can you tell me more about what it was like to?

04:22 Start a family.

04:25 Well, I always thought that I was going to be an independent woman. I wasn't going to get married, and I wasn't going to have any children and then in this big city in the middle of Manhattan.

04:39 I'm standing in 42nd Street, 2nd Avenue 42nd and guy. He was African-American. He was very tall, very musical muscular and he was wearing a uniform. He was a traffic agent and he was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life. I have never seen. It's getting cold. And I just thought it was such a fun person. And he spoke to me first and

05:20 I don't know. I fell under his spell. I mean, I'm married your father. I still didn't want to have any children, but

05:33 Well.

05:36 I got pregnant with your sister and it was, it was bittersweet. I was in love, I fell in love at first sight, but I believe that I did get some post-traumatic syndrome. But if they call it, then baby blues, I guess I got the baby blues and

05:58 Postpartum. And I didn't feel that I was going to be a good mother. I didn't know if I had the tools to, to brace this brand new baby, but I had Tia.

06:13 The support of your grandmother. And she was a very experienced of baby. She was a professional child care, provider. He was there to support me with everything and she even to even

06:30 Take the baby from me. And until we go take a shower when they can up to do the laundry. So we understood each other. After a couple of

06:45 Incident. So maybe what depression near? I took it in and motherhood was the best thing that happened to me. It was wonderful to staff when I've heard the story a million times, but when I hear it, now I cry because

07:04 Hear you talk about the doubt and the depression. It's I know that it was there. But as your daughter, I feel so.

07:14 So loved and cared for it. I just

07:20 I'm so happy that you kept kept loving us through that.

07:27 And I know it wasn't easy. Well, I'm glad that now. Pregnancy Aftercare is better. Yeah, so back then. We didn't have the medical support. We had each other maybe if

07:46 I read your grandmother was in.

07:49 With me helping you would have been different but she probably going to some issues like that in your own pregnancy is Sochi.

07:59 She knew he was an instant, but she was there to support me. Also. I will elucha came from Mexico. And so,

08:14 I had a woman to rely on your father will be there to maybe hold the baby and sing a lullaby and then put it back. If I like her. I like you was my toilet. I'm not going to borrow your baby. Let me play with the baby for a minute, but I'm putting back. I know it's yours. He was more reluctant to share all that. He was proud and happy but I need to know how to navigate that relationship that we have it and he would just let me be with my baby. But you know, I will and Grandma being there teaching me how to even watch the baby to breastfeed because I didn't know how to do that. Went to know that the baby was hungry or went to know, to just put the baby. Let it ride for a couple seconds. She'll be fine. She just need to exercise her lungs. I would say.

09:14 We are Willa and me will sit at a baby inside and wait for her to wake up cuz we didn't have anything else to do. But watch the business lending at the Starlight. So, you know that was abundant relationship with my baby, but also about the relationship with my mom and your grandma. And you know, this morning, I was telling you about how it just hit me that a weather Ivy, and I will allude to that. They were in these roles of of not just nurturers, but business owners and getting phds. And and as I was going out into the world, I realized that when I see

10:02 Not a lot of women in leadership yet. I think it's strange. It's because I grew up with my grandma Ivy owning the business, but also loving me and nurturing me. So I'm expecting to see that everywhere I go and I just I'm happy to hear that. They were there to navigate with you through motherhood.

10:23 I'm going to ask you a question. How do you feel now seeing your children not have to.

10:39 At first, I thought that you know, everybody wanted to have children, but me and Marcel didn't want to have any children. It was a note that I have my first child that I would like. Oh my God, this is

10:54 So,

10:56 Is your decision is a big responsibility and I I I told you the other day that I was driving my speech because I always joke about when I'm going to be a grandma every day. When when am I going to be a grandmother? But I was riding then I like it. There are not usually your Horace deal. Chloe and my children. It's okay. If you don't want to have a child, it's a big responsibility. And I'm not going to impose my feelings, being a mother. Having the best thing that happened to me and the law that a child is you is under scriptable. Don't do you have a child, but, you know, it's your decision and I'm fine with it. And then I go to sleep and I have a dream that you tell me more, I'm pregnant. So there goes my intentions are good. That is already have a children, a child, but then I go to sleep and not dream that you pregnant.

11:54 So, it's only because they are.

12:00 The experience of motherhood is like any other now, owning a business, having a business was wonderful. Getting married was wonderful working for somebody. Doing what I like your life is wonderful, but it doesn't compare with the happiness of being a mother. So I just want to put my children even for your brother to experience. Painful is a want to not everything is easy. They starting with depression. Was worked out and if it was okay, and they were other challenges.

12:45 Having 4 Kids, the laundry was at one point. We had to washing machines, have a Pass is closed, and I was just like, when he's not in the dishes, were never going. The house was a mess. But then I see the pity party. Running around and all of that doesn't count. You know, you coming out of coming back from school with an apple that you got in school for being for doing driving school and then write it something for me and giving it to me everyday, you brought me an Apple at Europe. I love you or I put a happy face. I mean those things he can't he can experience. I work you can experience with your partner. You can experience with your neighbors children is

13:37 It's just

13:40 It's just a wonderful experience that I will if you would like everybody to have a they want to, they don't want this. We know that, you know that you're joking and you know, Chris and I have been married for three years and the pandemic we were like, oh no babies now, but, you know, we talked about it and we know it will be hard but one of the things that I tell him always says, I want to be near my mom because I know that you'll be there for me.

14:12 Like your mom was for you. Yeah, that's as long as we need to support each other yet. And, and so, yeah, I have fears of having kids, because we're very similar. I'm like, I'm never getting married. I'm independent. I don't need a husband. I don't want children those same things that you felt. I felt felt too. But at the end of the day,

14:35 The love that you've given me. I want to be able to share that with the world. And I mean you amaze me because

14:48 You working at the daycare and you've been working there for 30 years and you share, you love those children's so much. And it just amazes me that your heart can be so big and you still can come home to your 4, crazy kids and love us as much as we need. One of the things that I always like to joke about is when when I was little, I would ask you which one, which one of us after you left in my car as is it Julie isn't me? Hear that? Chloe? And you said something to me that I would like. You said, I love my children when depending on who needs the most loved at the time and it shocked me what a beautiful answer. When when Chloe needs the love board, you share it with her.

15:43 When heart, when me, when Julie and I think I was 13, but I was like

15:53 I really yeah, I love you all. And but there were I mean I had to

16:00 When I had a one-on-one, that's when I love you than what I mean. I love you old. And we say, we love you this same. My love is the same for all of you, but I can only love you. Do you know, I can load it for you. At the same time? I did say I can't I can't I mean I'm not only one mother but if if you if you fall asleep. You need and I'm going to help you that time and I'm going to show you my lover that time, but that doesn't negate the love that I have worked for the other three. It's so you know, I don't know where that comes from. You lately just nature makes you like that but just because I love you.

16:43 Is not going to stop the love that I feel for you for the rest of you. I'm in my bucket list to see all the way to the top of your love bucket is full. And then, I went thing, I can tell you about your Independence and I had wanted to have children. So you did grow up to be a wonderful children. All of you are following you on path, some of them.

17:12 Fell and got up and what kind of lost. I know that everybody's did navigating because I'm still navigating and I'm 58, and I'm still not a grandmother passed away.

17:33 So,

17:36 Kids leave-in do Independence and all the things that you or I wanted to to be. I am and my kids didn't stop me from that. They just introduce my life and made me a better person.

17:55 And so I didn't, I didn't do those dreams that had because I was a mother. It was difficult to be a wife. That one was a difficult one.

18:08 But at the end of the day, I am very full feel. I'm very proud of who I am today. I'm very proud of my children and

18:25 It was worth it all day ups, and downs. That we went through. It was

18:31 We had a hydro. Do you know the other things that we went through, but

18:35 I think we would coming out better for it.

18:40 And I want to thank you for the Forbidden ones. $4 that you. I love you.

18:49 It's more. The kiddo mucho. I was going to ask you to tell me something.

18:57 If you don't want you to get on my

19:15 I was going to see if I have another question, but I think you kind of answered it a little bit.

19:21 What was it? Raising mixed kids since we were black in America?

19:30 I didn't think anything of it at first.

19:35 The only problem I had was like, how am I going to brush their hair? The nurse in the hospital. That was crying and said that, why you crying your baby is fine. I like, how am I going to brush her hair to go to my going to do with her, but that was solved by

19:53 Miss Lewis at the daycare. I can remember that. What's the name of that?

19:59 Anyway, my baby will have her hair, come Friday, the day care theaters, and that was our, but I had a problem. When I started realizing that my children.

20:13 Where,

20:14 Different. You pinpointed that to me. I will aluta. It looks a little bit more complication. That me. I'm kind of Darker skin and I will, I do. Child looks

20:29 Mexico, vacation. And well, you are makes you a darker skin beautiful. And what is the nickname? You call me that. I would get mad. So you did that Juanita mignon. Negrita, beautiful, beautiful black, but I will admit, I was sitting and you put her hand against her leg and you could see the difference in town.

21:02 And then I saw you crying. I asked you, why you crying right now. I just like goes black, but I get so ugly. I would like, why would you even think that?

21:12 And you told me you wanted to be white, like your grandmother.

21:15 I like why would you say that? I know.

21:18 And you ask it wasn't cuz nobody likes black people.

21:23 That was what 344? Yeah, and I was that's when I knew there was something different with my tooth.

21:32 But I will ignore Anna. You are beautiful. There's nothing wrong with you.

21:39 I went to do to told you the same thing and she didn't speak any English, but you understood. I don't know. If you remember her reaction or I would reaction. We just knocked on you and we are assured you that what you were beautiful just exactly how you were there. Was nothing wrong with you, but that open up.

22:03 Kind of warms because then I started observing the world differently, and I also said that. Yes, there was a difference. And, yes, there was a difference in the treatment, which a new full movies and for, you know, the new sent in, but I didn't even realize that my children will go through that.

22:25 When your brother was 17 years old.

22:30 He got stopped by the police for making an illegal left turn.

22:35 And he was driving my car that had expired expired tag on it. I have forgotten to pay the the time he asked me for the car at 17 years old. I let him drive it.

22:46 So was he was stopped before an expired tag, but he was a miner. So I feel that I was responsible for that. Anyway, he was taken to jail by days in jail, no bond.

22:58 For that entire. I just couldn't believe it. There. Wasn't that an underage driver get burnt to come. You know, they let him out. They wouldn't even let him get up on at 17 years old. So, he spent five days in jail. He had he was said he had never done anything here. Never stole anything or being nasty to anybody. Never broke the law out to that point. And I was feeling guilty because I was the one that didn't pay for it. That would, I didn't have the money at the time. So, I was driving with an expired tag because I have to go to work. I couldn't

23:42 A little before that. When will, it was when I had left your father and I have nothing, but I was trying my best and we didn't even have food.

23:57 Heat before that he had open the refrigerator last for maybe he was 14 at the time. There was nothing in the refrigerator. I think it was some water in there.

24:09 Another I'm sorry, we don't have any food at apply for food stamps. For some reason that I think they told me I was in the city soon so I couldn't get them but that was around and said that wasn't the truth but you not even go any further. So I didn't get the food stamps. But anyway, and I wasn't getting child support for your father. The time we were still fighting or not. So there was no food in there and he throws the book. The refrigerator. I said, don't worry about it. Just don't do breakfast tomorrow at school. He went to her bed looking better. I'm sorry. I'm talk about your brother without dinner that night and that that's when I said know how to get out of this. I can't I can't do that. You wouldn't call it just cuz I was in college. I mean, I knew things were not how they were when I grew up, but it didn't hit me because I was away. And when I came home, it was let's have fun this weekend and I didn't really realize the difficult miss that, you and hearts and Chloe come get her. But kind of

25:08 His control way was with money. So I didn't get any child support because we were fighting in court and, you know, that takes time and then I went from you only in a business to working for somebody for $9 an hour. So that was like a tenth of what I used to make and I had two to make it work. So I would you getting adjusted to to those changes. I really

25:34 I mean, it was difficult. But all of these came because out there I was telling you about what you brother getting incarcerated and

25:44 It was hot. It was hard to think that that will happen later on a head up a partner. That was white and he was coming to visit.

25:55 And I didn't like him to be late. So he was speeding and he got stopped, as you might have been a little tipsy too. And when he gets to me, so I guess what? I'm like, what the police told me. I like that. You're not in jail. Give me the, you know, what? Yes.

26:24 I said, well, I'm glad you liked it because and he was mad, he was upset, but I would like

26:32 My phone, got it. Got let me not too long ago. This happened to him and he would like to have nothing to do with racism. But I will like, I don't know. So it was hard to see the difference in treatment. But well, he's he was a good friend and then the color didn't matter that use it just suppose. I did some time. So it was hard to see the difference between mint sometimes, but we are all fine. We found out way your brother found his way and maybe him going to jail.

27:10 What's a good thing? Because he said I'm not going to go to jail after he joined the military. He said my mom can take care of me and my father can take on me. Muncle. Some probably will take care of and then when he joined the army and I think it was a good thing because if you gave him a structure, that was missing in our house with you, if I didn't know being there and he having all the other other things that way he came out the military, he much her a lot. He was still a little lost, but I think he found his way in all of you are amazing to me. We all appreciate me and your father making this baby. I don't know, but I think you better look in that any other baby left, and now that I know how to comb my hair like that. I don't have to worry about that.

28:09 I'm biased you are but I'm glad that you and her dad created us because I love I love being both and I love being able to navigate through the world. With all the viewpoints that I have from being Mexican being black being a woman. So American American not speaking Spanish cuz I'm trying this story.

28:40 So thank you to you both my mom and my dad. Thank you. I love you. I love you, too.