The Coolest Black Family in America, No. 4:<br />
The Barnes
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a book author of the Scholastic series called Ruby and the Booker Boys, as well as, We Could Be Brothers, a novel based on a conversation between a thirteen and twelve year old. Dr. Tinka Barnes is the lead physician at a Family Practice in Missouri. She speaks to inner city kids on obesity and the importance of nutrition and exercise. She and Derrick are planning their tag team lecture series inspired by a young woman in Tinka’s dance class whose father was a pimp and whose mother was a drug addict. “When she showed up pregnant at sixteen, I told Derrick that we needed to do more.”

Derrick also has a blog on the outstanding website MyBrownBaby.com. He dedicates his column to his children, called My Four Sons, whom he authentically calls his tribe, whom he’s dubbed with nicknames to accompany their personalities:

Ezra (Pretty Boy McCoy), the brainy one who likes the mirror, is 11. Tinka describes him as the nicest person she ever met. Solomon (Solo), 7, is the prankster with New Orleans Saints football dreams; Silas (Nestle Snypes) age 5 is the sweet charmer; and the baby, Nnamdi aka Phe-Nnam (nine months) is busy being ‘super cute’.

The tribe even has their own call and response. Derrick: Who can beat the Barnes boys? Boys In Unison: Nobody!!

“Everything I do is centered around my family,"  says Derrick. “My first job is raising these boys and loving this lady. They are my everything.”

The Coolest Black Family in America is an EBONY.com original series: an ongoing look at the intricacies, layers and compelling beauty of African-American family life. Of course, "The Coolest Black Family” is not one family but many. In fact, we’ve found that there are as many Coolest Black Families as there are versions of cool. Also consider that family does not always mean mother + father + kids. What we know is that what defines family is connected hearts and supported souls. Ride with us weekly as we criss-cross the country in search of kinfolk whose cool is so palpable and real, it comes second only to their love.

Joicelyn Dingle travels to find the Coolest Black Family in America exclusively for EBONY.com. She splits her time between Savannah and Brooklyn. She is currently completing a documentary on the making of Honey magazine and the 90's urban publishing era. Friend her on Facebook. Follow her @editorialgenius.