The Skin I’m In

Maceo Keeling - SCORE Member, Business Owner and Consultant. Photo: Urban News
Maceo Keeling – SCORE Member, Business Owner and Consultant. Photo: Urban News
By Maceo Keeling –

The skin I’m in is beautiful; it has a rich melanin pigment and shows me to the world in a variety of hues from blue-black to near white.

The skin I’m in built the Great Pyramid of Egypt in 2550 BC. People still marvel at how it was constructed, how it still stands to this very day.

The skin I’m in bore scholarly Moors who brought mathematics to the world. The oldest known mathematical artifact (the Lebombo Bone), dates back to more than 35,000 years ago and was found in the Lebombo Mountains near Swaziland in Africa.

The skin I’m in built the University of Timbuktu, the world’s first university, and a major learning institution for not just Africa but the world.

The skin I’m in bore King Mansa Musa I, a master businessman and economist, who gained his wealth through the sale of gold, salt, and ivory. Musa ruled the Mali Empire and was estimated to have been worth the equivalent of $400 billion in today’s currency, which makes him the richest man to ever walk this earth.

The skin I’m in bore Marie Van Brittan Brown (1922-99), a full-time nurse, who recognized the security threats to her home and devised a system that would alert her of strangers at her door. Her original invention consisted of peepholes, a camera, monitors, and a two-way microphone. The finishing touch was an alarm button that (when pressed), would immediately contact the police. Her patent laid the groundwork for the modern closed-circuit television system that is widely used for surveillance in home security systems, push-button alarm triggers, crime prevention, and traffic monitoring.

The skin I’m in bore Philip Emeagwali (1954 –), who was forced to drop out of school at age 14. But this didn’t stop him from becoming one of the greatest computer pioneers of our time. He’s often called “The Bill Gates of Africa.”

As an adult, Emeagwali began studying nature, specifically bees. The construction of the honeycomb inspired him to rethink computer processing. In 1989, he put this idea to work, using 65,000 processes to invent the world’s first “supercomputer” — able to perform 3.1 billion calculations per second.

Finally, but not least, the skin I’m in bore Elijah McCoy (1843-1929), often regarded as one of the most famous African American inventors ever.

Elijah McCoy was credited with over 50 inventions during the span of his career. In an effort to improve efficiency and eliminate the frequent stopping necessary for lubrication of trains and rail systems. McCoy devised a method of automating the task. In 1872 he developed a “lubricating cup” that could automatically drip oil when and where needed — vital in preventing the wheels from sticking to the track.

The lubricating cup met with enormous success and orders for it came in from railroad companies all over the country. It was so popular that when other inventors attempted to steal his idea and sell their own versions of the device, companies were not fooled. They insisted on the authentic device, calling it “the Real McCoy.”

Nonetheless, in this society, the skin I’m in is a threat to a sector of mainstream society. It causes my sisters, brothers, parents, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, and friends to be shot down in church and immolated as martyrs for taking the “moral high ground.” Or get beat down by the gang in blue.

As a United States Veteran, the skin I’m in doesn’t allow me the freedoms and liberties I fought for—just the right and obligation to stand at attention when the anthem is played. However, it affords other folk the unfair advantage and freedoms to teach their children about success, while I teach my children about survival.

Being in the skin I’m in means living under that constant threat of removal; and yet there’s no way to render myself unthreatening enough to prevent that 911 call. At the same time, the skin I’m in is expected to act grateful for being “allowed” to be here at all … as if I had a choice.

“I Am Not What You Think!”


Be your best YOU! Answer the call!”


Dr. King had a dream, now we must have vision. The Conscious Call radio program airs every Monday at 11:30 a.m. on WRES-FM 100.7. In a collaboration with the radio program, the Urban News will help keep readers informed about events, programs, news, and the progress of The Conscious Call. For more information, contact the Conscious Call at (828) 989-6999 and visit

The opinions and statements made in this column are solely the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of The Urban News.