7a. Tell me about your interest in Africa and your works depicting African types?

Well my background is kind of interesting because I come from a very mixed heritage. Many of my ancestors were, well my great grandparents, my great grandfathers were sons of slave-slave master unions and there were several Indian women who were married to these men or they lived their lives together. So basically my ancestry is African, Native American and European. My upbringing was very political and my parents were committed to the civil rights movement. They were committed to a knowledge of Africa and all things African. We traveled to Africa. My sister lived there for eight years so we traveled to Kenya to visit her when I was in college. And I was very moved by everything I saw there. It was a strange experience for us because we're light skinned. I'm more brown skinned than my mother and my sister who are pretty white skinned actually but with black features. But we were kind of greeted with "what are you?" And this happens to me all the time people will ask " are you Ethiopian, are you Puerto Rican?" and I know that I have a look that's similar to Ethiopians that I've seen. Puerto Ricans, it's the very same blood line because part of our Native American ancestry is Taino, and that's the same tribe that's in Puerto Rico and most Puerto Ricans are white, black and Indian. So I'm never surprised when people think that that's what I am and I had a wonderful time in Puerto Rico. I felt right at home. But the African connection has always been important to me and in finding out about my heritage, I'm always listening to the story and I'm asking, "OK where's the African? Who was the African in this line,and how did that play out? What did they do? How did they survive?"