Take Notice: Amplifying Black Stories

Darius Heggins

February 02, 2021 takenoticepodcast Season 1 Episode 7
Take Notice: Amplifying Black Stories
Darius Heggins
Show Notes Transcript

Darius Heggins is a father, dog trainer, and former event worker. Darius grew up in the Seattle area and now resides on the Long Beach Peninsula in Washington State with his wife, who is also the host of Take Notice! In this episode (which is the first ever recorded for this project!) Allison and Darius discuss his experiences growing up in different neighborhoods around Seattle and his views on our current culture and the one he grew up in.

Natural Concepts Dog Training

Mentioned in this episode:
Langston

Take Notice w Darius Heggins 



[00:01 – 05:05]

Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Welcome to Take Notice: Amplifying Black Stories. I am your host Allison Preisinger-Heggins. The mission of this project is to Take Notice, to listen, to hold space, by amplifying Black stories experiences and voices, conversations on family life, finding joy and interests of folks in our country who encounter racism on a daily basis. A portion of these discussions will be dedicated to holding space for guests who are comfortable sharing their personal experiences with racism. Stories help us all learn and connect; we are here to listen, to Take Notice. Thank you for being with us. Let us take a moment to recognize to Take Notice of the voices that are so often unheard. Land acknowledgement statements are an important part of honoring those whose land we now live and work on. I have chosen to begin each episode this way to spark ideas and keep these conversations in the front of our minds, so that we may learn how to do better. 

I would like to acknowledge the land on which I created this recording and the recording of the interview in this episode. I would like to show gratitude to the traditional ancestral land of the Tulalip, Snohomish, Stillaguamish, Sauk-Suiattle, Shoalwater Bay and Chinook tribes, recognizing that these names are not the original names of the people of these areas. As I continue to learn how to better acknowledge native people of these lands, I will adjust the wording of the beginning of each episode. I encourage listeners to research the land on which you live and are listening right now, recognizing this is just the beginning. So, this is the very first episode we recorded, this was back in august of 2020, my wonderful patient husband allowed me to practice my non-existent interviewing skills out on him, multiple times to test out the equipment, come up with the flow for these episodes, and to include him on the project, which I am really grateful to be able to do. 

I think it might be harder though to interview your significant other than someone you do not know at all. So there is that. But, you may notice that the formats in the episodes are a little bit different than in this episode. So there is also that. It is morphed a little bit even since then. I will probably always do a little bit of a forehead smack every time, I listen to something older but that is just how these things go. Darius has been my sounding board for this project since the very beginning, offering advice, guidance, and encouragement, a huge part of this project is for him. So, I want to acknowledge all that he is done to put this into the world, and everything that he is put into this, and encourage me to do and so I just want to thank him very much. Also his music, Darius music is featured in each episode that intro and outro you hear, is from Darius's song what matters. So for this episode, if you hang out at the very end of the episode, you can hear the full track. So let us get right to it. 

Please enjoy this episode with Darius Heggins. Take Notice would like to take the time to acknowledge Black owned businesses, organizations and artists. If you have a suggestion of, who we should highlight during our episodes, please find us on social media or visit our website. Take Notice invites you to follow and support Langston. Langston is a 501C3 non-profit arts organization, established in 2016 to lead programming within the Historic Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in Seattle. Langston guides regenerative programs and community partnerships that center Black art, artists and audiences, and honor the ongoing legacy of Seattle’s Black central area. They support a variety of enriching programs across multiple disciplines, rooted in the following mission and values, to strengthen and advance our community through Black arts and culture, to cultivate Black brilliance by sharing culture promoting artistic expression, encouraging artistic excellence, facilitating cultural education and possibility, cultivating leaders, practicing radical inclusivity, thriving as a self-determined community. 

To follow and support, visit langstonseattle.org. So, we are married but other people do not know you as well as I do. So, if you can just introduce yourself a bit, tell the listeners whatever you would like to share, and we will go for it. 


Darius Heggins 

My name is Darius Heggins, I am a father, first and foremost, I worked for the Seattle school district for about two and a half years, and then I became a dog trainer, which has been a lot of fun and I am still building my business natural concepts dog training, right now, but it is doing pretty good. I am a musician; if you can call it that I just kind of do studio work for the most part. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

And you reside in the Seattle area, but right now we are living in Arlington. 


[05:06 – 10:20]

Darius Heggins 

Arlington, yes… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

North of Seattle, a more rural area. 


Darius Heggins 

Yeah. It can be interesting sometimes. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Well, it is also interesting because we are just at home all the time. 


Darius Heggins 

That is true, COVID. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

So, we do not really see the community that much. 


Darius Heggins 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

And then you grew up in the Seattle area. So, what was it like growing up in Seattle for you? Did you hop around a bit and everything? What areas did you live in? And what was your youth like? 


Darius Heggins 

I grew up in down in the rainier valley and Seward Park area, I also did a stint in Juanita, and izukawa too. But, it was all learning experiences, my dad lived over on 16th and Madison, and my mom lived more near Seward Park. So, Columbia city, rainier beach high school, all of that it went, you know, nova and a school called AS1, it was interesting growing up with the confines that I grew up in, it was not just the area but also the family dynamic that I was… myself and my brother were living in, that made it very interesting. My brother is older, he is white, and we have different fathers, same mother. My father was there and gone for the most part. My father, you know, I am what they would consider mixed, but I am a Black man through and through and growing up, even though we grew up in the same house, we definitely had two different lives. My father was in and out of my life, most of my life, we still had, and in the end we still had a good relationship. 

My brother's father, I thought that he had met him, but it turns out that I was wrong, his dad was not there, and I will leave it at that. He was not there but it I guess recently they were able to connect and so that is been really good for him. But, it was interesting, you know when we would be with my mom at the store or when we would go to certain places, go to the beach, and have a good time, you know, people could not believe that we were brothers, you know, they would make comments or what have you and my brother was always very proud to have me as his brother, as I am to have him as my brother. But, yeah, I mean we went to or we had different lifestyles. I remember when we went to Hawaii, and I fit right in, I had my locks, I still have my locks, people cannot see me. So, I was… long locks, middle of my back, a lot of Hawaiians took me for Hawaiian and my brother, so they were very open to me, but my brother they saw him just as a white guy. 

And so, he did not, it was almost like reverse racism in a sense because they were very open, what is happening brother, what is going on, oh come on in, you know, what can we do for you and then my brother would say; hey, how is it going, and they would just look at him, as if he was a terrorist, you know. They did not like him one bit and so that made my experience was good in Hawaii, you know, but his experience, I would not say it was horrible but it was challenging. So, it is interesting in that dynamic because when we were growing up, it was the complete reversal, you know. He being white was in this society was fine, you know, they just saw him as another white kid, but me, I got that and still do get that look. I even got it today going to petco, I walked out and there was a dude, who had his mask on, and he was just looking me up and down, as like who were you type of thing, and I just said hi, walked on by, and it was that, it was such a small thing but I think that that is what racism and prejudice and things of that sort for a Black and that is what it is. 

It is a consistence that we have to deal with and we learn in our own ways how to deal with it and what does that mean and what are the different levels of dealing with it and I learned, I guess my relationship and that is what I will call it. A relationship with racism, I have in my travels, I have learned that sometimes you must just allow it to be in that moment and pass on and then there is other times depending on the height of it, that you need to get down and dirty. 

[10:21 – 15:21]

Darius Heggins 

So, today it was such a… it still happened but it was such a small thing. It is just, hey, how it is going, alright, bye-bye now, never see you again. Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

It makes me wonder or what you thought you saw as reverse racism, that thought and that ideas makes me curious of what your thoughts are on that? Because what I have kind of come to understand about that term or that idea is maybe different than yours, I do not know. Because to me they are… or I mean what I have learned is, there cannot be reverse racism because why is it that those Hawaiian people were treating your brother that way, you know, it is not the same as why you are treated differently in the Seattle area or in, you know, where you were growing up, right? 


Darius Heggins 

Absolutely! Well, I mean, it is an unfortunate fact that throughout history, Europeans have created what issues we deal with today and it has transpired over generations, generations, and generations. So, my brother into being in Hawaii and calling it reverse racism, not in the sense of that just to get my words clear. When we are here in the states, racism is very prevalent towards us, consistently as I have said before. But, being in Hawaii, it was a flip, yes the Europeans pretty much conquered Hawaii and they even today, you know, they still do things that I do not know about government wise, prototype wise, towards the Hawaiians taking their land and doing all these things, that is a constant. I understand that. But, over my travels, and the knowledge that I have gained for myself, and there may be some that do not agree with me and that is fine. Is that we are not though we still have the same prototype structures that we have to deal with, that are serious matters, you know. 

I get pulled over; I could lose my life that is a serious matter. But also, we have come to a time where we have more multicultural families, we have more families that have a white mom and a Black dad, and a Black mom and a white dad, and kids, and people that are trying to just live their lives as people, and be peaceful, and be just be. So, we have in that instance, going back to Hawaii, my brother is actually, he is a good guy, and he is very open, he is… I do not remember out of everybody in my family, and every racist thing that I have been through and prejudicial thing that I have been through my life, my brother has never been a part of that, ever. So, when we are in Hawaii, they did not see that, they just saw a white person and that is the same, even though there is these reasons, that is the same as when people see me and they think that I am just a criminal or I am just this or I am just that or they have to be afraid of me because of some ideal that they have. 

They are not stopping to get to know me and in that circumstance, if they would have actually opened themselves up the same to him, the same way that they did with me. I think they would have found that he was actually a good person, a good human being, and those traits that they were seeing. We are not necessarily there, and that is a huge part of what we are dealing with now and I would not get too far into it, but really we have come so far and have so many multicultural families, we have so many cultures intertwined that we cannot look on the grassroots level, person to person. It is difficult for me to look at a person just and right away say; oh, you are just a racist. Now, I am not talking about the structure, the structure is racist, the president, as far as I am concerned is racist, the system that has been built on racism, this all has an effect, that ideal has changed over time once again but that is what we are dealing with. That is the ideals that we are fighting against, every day. 


[15:22 – 20:14]

Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Is there a moment that you were thinking of if sharing for this episode of when you have encountered racism? 


Darius Heggins 

Absolutely! One of the many prevalent moments is when I was in Issaquah high school, and I was in a teacher's class, I had had issues at that high school to begin with. I had teachers treat me, definitely less than the others. I had a teacher, kick my bag across the floor, because it was sticking out of the table, and then asked somebody else to please move their bag. That was a situation. But, the biggest thing is when I was with my friends and I had a shirt on, that I think it was a big tapestry type shirt, and it had in one section had this marijuana leaf on there and the teacher asked myself and my friends back, and asked me to flip the shirt inside out and said that that was inappropriate, and I said why, you know, I mean it was so small, you could not really see it was like you had to be up close and pinpoint and I just said well, you know, I do not see why, and he says; I will send you to the principal's office, and I said that is fine, you know, I will talk to the principal about it. 

I am not doing anything wrong. I am not bothering anybody. I am in your class and he stated with my friends there, one was Hispanic and another one was white, I believe and he says; well, you know, you are not going to pass my class, anyway and I said; well, what are you talking about? Just kind of gave him a look and he was like you are not going to pass my class because you are Black and my friend, who is Hispanic, just flipped, and was like what? What did he just say, what? And I remember after class was done, that was pretty much it, you know, he was upset and said that that was wrong, because in his mind if he is saying that to me what about him. So, I actually approached the principles and told them of the situation and they just said; oh, it was fine, he must not have said that, you must have heard wrong, and I was the one that pretty much created this story, in my head to get back at him and nothing ever came of it. 

And it was after that day that I decided to do homeschooling and I was done. I was done with high school, you know and I had gone to Cleveland high school which was completely different. Cleveland high school was a high school, that you had to watch what you say, and who you say it to. Because you could get beat, stabbed or even shot at the drop of a hat, that was just the area that is what it was. But, there was a lot to learn in there. I saw with this long hallway, I saw segregation, to where I walked through the door, long hallway, it was break, and there was Hispanics on both sides, touching back to back, shoulder to shoulder, down maybe a third of the way and then there was Black folks, male and female, all of them, touching shoulder to shoulder with the Hispanics, continuing down along the way and then way down at the very end was a couple of white folks doing the exact same thing. None of them wanted to recognize each other, the ones touching. 

So, a Hispanic male and a Black male, touching shoulders, touching backs, both have looking the opposite way, as if they were not there and that was very interesting to see because I do not even know if they recognized, that they were doing that, but that was a thing, you know and I am sure it was just cliquish or whatever but I remember that. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

It was Cleveland; you went to Cleveland before you went to the Issaquah, right? 


Darius Heggins 

I did. Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

And you mentioned your dad was in and out for, you know, most of your childhood, right? 


Darius Heggins 

He was. Yes. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

So was that your stand? 


Darius Heggins 

I was with my dad. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

When you were in Cleveland? 


Darius Heggins 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

And then…?


Darius Heggins 

And then I, some things went down and with him and so I ended up moving back to my mom's. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

And that is when you are in Issaquah. 


Darius Heggins 

That is when I am in Issaquah. Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Your story about what your teacher said to you, do you remember who else might… was anybody else involved, and anybody else aware besides your friends that were there when your teacher said that? Were they able to chime in about it? 


[20:15 – 25:00]

Darius Heggins 

No, not at all, not at all, I mean that stuff happened all the time there, that type of foolery; I will call it, happened all the time and there are only a handful of us. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Is it true that for you encountering racist moments or racist people, whether they are aware of it and very blatant or not. Is that a daily occurrence? 


Darius Heggins 

It can be. I mean, it you never know when it is going to happen, so it is consistent and there is times when people go out of their way and then there is times when people just do not realize that they are being racist or they are being prejudiced. They just do not have that comprehension. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Do you have any thoughts on what would make you feel genuinely equal? 


Darius Heggins 

Being able to feel free to be me, and respected for me, which involves my culture, involves my skin color, involves my personality, and involves all of me. Because really that is what everybody's wants. We get caught up with this and that, but when you break it down that is what everybody wants and what does that look like? How can we get there? You know, consistently we have the next generation is going to do better. Father tells the son, and then that son grows, and that son tells his son, and so on and so on and so on… Well, I choose to not get caught up in those ideals, and to try, and be free, and show others freedom, if that makes sense and a lot of people will probably think of that and be like man, you are crazy, what are you talking about. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Well, if that is what your answer is and that is true to you, then that is all that matters. 


Darius Heggins 

Yeah. Well, I think in everybody's hearts or and whoever's listening to this, I think it is true for them too, you know. People want to be who they are and be respected for who they are and be treated with value for who they are and their culture and all of their being, you know. I mean, when we have our close friends, that is our feeling, that person that we are so close to sees us. But then we look at society and we put our armor on and we have to deal with racism, we have to deal with all that stuff and that is the part of the core is that we know that those people or in those situations, they do not see us, they do not see me and there are people that go out of their way, not to see me, and respect me, and yet they want respect. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Do you have anything else that you wanted to share today that we missed? 


Darius Heggins 

I do not think so. I think that that covers it. You know, I could talk for days about all kinds of stuff, but I think that is good on my end. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Well, I am sure you have more stories that could be shared too, and maybe we will have to just do another episode at some point. 


Darius Heggins 

Yeah. That would be fun! 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

To just get them all out. 


Darius Heggins 

Yeah. Well you know where I live. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Alright, well, thank you Darius for being my first interviewee for this podcast and thanks for sharing your stories. 


Darius Heggins 

You are welcome. Thank you for having me. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Thank you for joining us for Take Notice: Amplifying Black Stories. Please subscribe, and follow us on social media, we are at Take Notice podcast; it would really help us out if you could take a couple of minutes to review our podcast. Thank you for your support. Take Notice: Amplifying Black Stories is produced, hosted and edited by Allison Preisinger-Heggins, co-produced by Amanda Rae, music by Version Big Fi featuring Darius Higgins. Thank you for being with us and thank you for taking notice.