My grandfather,  Jessie Strange ,would tell riddles like, “I rode across the bridge, but yet I walked? (yetti was the dog).  All of my cousins and I would gather at his feet in the living room to listen while he’d laugh with his big voice and give us tidbits of wisdom like “Never vote for a President below the Mason/Dixon Line”.

When we were young

My baby brother, one time, got off the bus with spit on the top of his head.  As he stepped down in front of me I could see the shinny white glob sitting just on top where ever so gently it had landed, unbeknownst to him, not me.

Swiping at his head, then wiping my hand against my dress.  He looked back half expecting me to hit and run, “What’s that?” he asked.  “Nothing,” I said pushing him along in front of me and the bus.  The foam, disapearing into my dress.  The suck of my stomach against the rise of bile, a deeep breath, now, even as I write still feeling that foam making a noise much like that of dangling earrings in my ear or the rush of material that “announces your thighs” in jogging suits.

Their eyes watched us and without my black skin turning my eyes watched them, watching me, black.

My little brother and I walked the long graveled road back to our big ol’ farmhouse filled with a giant, warm and loving family that protected us from hurt, harm or danger.  We had never known ourselves to be anything different than who we were, a family.  We got many a “lesson” to and from our newly “segregated” school that year.  We walked, but my soul never turned away from that moment back then

when we were young.

 I made sure that day that I showed my little brother where we’d damn up the creek to make a “swimming hole” for summer.  There in that place for sunshine and butterflies, I showed him the place where I pulled out that smooth black rock, kept him when he slipped and got us home in time  for momma.

The fireball of hatred flung at us that summer simply because of the color of our skin, darkened my youthful spirit and taught me the very hatred of fear itself.  America at that time was held in the bloody grip of “The Lie” that somehow there is a difference in mankind simply by an 1/8 inch covering of our perspective skins.  That “time and attention” are separate and holy only to a few.

When we were young

We learned to take a stand

So we sat in.

We refused to be kept back

so we marched

When we had no voice

We sang songs. 

We wiped away the spit and violence and sadness so that OUR YOUTH TODAY could have the privilege of ….indifference.

I am glad now to live in a world where we no longer have to wipe spit from the heads of our children and our grandgirls won’t have to get stuck to brick walls.  Our generataion stayed up late and went to bed early, working, planning and believing for a day when a black man would be called “MR. PRESIDENT.  We did this,  This was our struggle, we all can live out this dream, it is part of our accomplishment. 

Belief.  I have.

Hope. I Am.

History.  We made it.  One day, back then,

when we were young.

email me!



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