Every day I get a visit from my past. No lie. Every. Day. The visit is not from a childhood friend or classmate; like that scene in a movie where the foggy mist gives a hint the person is somebody from the past or someone from the future visiting the present to give a warning about some major life event.
Nothing like that. My visit is from a memory.
It stops by like an old friend who happens to be in the neighborhood bringing up moments in time long forgotten but recalled clear as day.
Countless episodes from elementary school, or events from that time period, present themselves (often) without a trigger. I say without a trigger because nothing is happening in the present moment that remotely resembles anything close to the memory lobbying for attention.
Am I longing for those days?
I doubt it. Or am I longing for those days subconsciously? I may need to have a session with Iyanla Vanzant to get to the why of it all, huh? I will admit there are times I wonder how my current status would be had I signed up for the Air Force and made a career of the military.
I was able to read before I started kindergarten; so how did my life become one of (seemingly) constant struggle to stay ahead? One recurring memory is during a first-grade writing assignment where a classmate asks, "How do you spell cousin?"
While the teacher helps a student. I stop writing to spell, "c-o-u-s-i-n" for my classmate.
When the teacher turns to help, my classmate points to the word and asks, "Teacher, is this spelled right?" She looks at his paper and says, "Yes! You got it right!" He points at me, "She spelled it!" Mrs. English jots a quick note on a pad and tells the class, "I'm going to the office. Be on your best behavior. I'll be right back!"
Where did I miss it?
How is it I am not as accomplished or established like my age peers: Michael Jackson, Angela Bassett, or Prince to name a few. I was surprised to see Ellen DeGeneres shared my birth year. I guess it should be the other way around seeing she was born first. Digressing big time. I know.
My ambitions were reasonable. I graduated from high school and got a job. I remember wanting to help my parents before getting a place of my own. I do not recall having the slightest desire to go to college despite hanging out on the honor roll. Wait! Yes, I did! I thought of going to school to be a dancer; changed my mind and went to business school--still not college.
Society says, not going to college after high school is a mistake. Seems like not giving up on being a productive citizen should be as noteworthy.
Even as a child, I was aware of racism listening to grown-ups sharing thoughts about Dr. Martin Luther King and others back in the day. The music and poets of that era encouraged Blacks to be proud and to know we have a place in America, though we did not get here by choice.
Speaking of coming to this country, I heard stories of how some captured slave mothers threw their babies overboard or did other unthinkable acts to keep their children from a life of slavery.
In the sixth grade, I drew a picture of a mother throwing her baby off a cliff. To this day, I wonder what happened to that drawing. Other students had their artwork given back to them.
Anyway, what can I do to be a solution and leave this world in better condition for the next generation and those to come? Why am I even thinking about doing any such thing? I have no large-scale influence; plus, the way I talk is not commanding.
Truth be told, I have enough to do in my life. I will settle for being politically inclined enough to be informed, hold a decent conversation on the sidelines, talking from the margin.
Marginalize: To consider a person, ethnic group, or culture as insignificant.
It amazes me how I remember what was said about writing between the margins, but which teacher said it in what grade remains a mystery.
Do not go past the right margin. When you get to the bottom of the page, do not write on the back; just continue on the next page.
In trying to save paper, I wrote on the front and back of the page. Though I wrote between the margins, I had to decipher my own handwriting when looking over my notes because the print on the back page pushed through to the front page. To this day, what do I do? I write between the margins and on separate pages.
Thinking of how people of color--Black people in particular--have been marginalized, it recently dawned on me. Speak from the margin.
Leaders in the Civil Rights Movement and other ethnic groups have been speaking from the margin in the battle for freedom and justice.
Memory: I am on stage reciting Langston Hughes' I, Too Sing America. A local council member is our special guest. I can still hear his response, "Umph," as I said the last line, "I, too am America."
My parents taught me to believe in myself. They helped me understand I am not to look down on other people and I am not less than any other child.
Having a healthy sense of pride allows confidence to grow. It is not arrogant to be pleased with who you are as an American of African descent living in America. My parents did the best they knew how to instill in me a way of thinking to live life without the bitterness of hatred.
The legacy they left for us is wealth of a different kind.
Surely, comfort and ease that goes with a life of luxury is to be desired; but being content with the riches of family love and support goes a long way in helping to live a good life.
Sounds like an oxymoron ... a good life for a Black person in America.
There is such a thing despite the history of racism in our country. We must remember, for the sake of fairness, that there were (and still are) many ethnic groups standing for justice alongside Americans of African descent.
Portions of American society cannot understand that having hard talks about racism in this country does not mean the people are racist.
We tout the First Amendment to uphold freedom to speak our minds, but not to hear push back to what we speak.
Few people consider how Net Neutrality affects being an entrepreneur.
Are racially biased algorithms real or just a conspiracy theory? Even so, what average person can prove it or do anything about it? Keep quiet in the margin and hope your online business can override the algorithm.
Why make waves speaking from the margin when there is strong resistance?
There are many ways to answer the call to fight for freedom and justice.
You may not be a professional politician; but speaking from the margin is also done when you vote.