Innocent in Chicago

“You’re in good hands, I’m Innocent.” I could see the taxi driver smiling in the rearview mirror. What kicked this conversation off was my disclaimer . . . “I’m not familiar with the area, but I have the address for the record store I’ve got to get to.” The taxi driver with a kind smile and a noticeable accent was indeed Innocent. “That’s my name, Innocent!” He points to his ID on the front dash and we laugh. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Starr.”  “What?! I love it! What great names we have! We must be good people,” he says.

And off we went, en route to what would become one of my new favorite record stores, Dusty Groove. (you already know my HBG, Devoya, put me onto this spot). I’m grateful I hopped in his taxi. The passing of each city block was filled with good conversation surrounding the significance and power of the namesake. “Where I’m from, names are very important. (he repeats) Very important.” Stopped at a red light our eyes meet in the rearview mirror. He continues . . . “My parents named me and my brothers and sisters after virtues they’d hoped we’d possess. They wanted us to be good people and that began with our names . . . I’m Innocent, my brothers and sisters are God’s Light, Happiness, and Grace.”

Before parting ways, now curbside, Innocent wanted to make sure I’d return to the hotel safely. “Do you have the address for where you’re staying? Good. This is a busy street, so you will not have trouble getting another taxi. Just stand here, waive your arm.” (he demonstrated . . . just in case).

Real life, walking and talking innocence exists. – Starr*, Happy Black Girl

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