I like my historical writing. Better yet, I find it easy and enjoyable. But I have not fully challenged myself to date. Hence, me flirting with fictional writing. While sitting around last night, I wanted to shape a scene in which my fictional character had to deal with tension. Here is what is taking place in his mind:
“She is forcing my state of thought while I grapple with my anger towards her. I see her God and whiteness shine as though I am in the dark needing her light. My bitterness is unclear, as I watch her move uncomfortably throughout the room; I know she thinks I am a simpleton, being black that is. The light of her skin forces me to ponder my race and place as a dark stranger behind her closed door. My mind frequents while my eyes move from her window frame to the carpet stain. My body feels a sense of submergence in my state of melancholy. Dark thoughts unfold to resist her light…. What is this light? My mind moves about the room while her blue eyes betray my body. Is it her indictment of my race, I thought? My eyes left her eyes as they moved back toward the stain. I looked up at her wall to find a cross stained of mahogany with beveled edges; it channeled my mind into a hall of crosses once observed in a church. While looking at the cross, I could still hear her voice as I mentally elapsed into a deeper sense of melancholy. Curious about the nail that held the cross to the wall, I thought about God as her voice echoed from afar. She is ten feet aside but felt ten miles away. I am listening to her while eyeing the paralyzed cross on her wall. My anger still growing as she spoke of nothing… her voice represents a pain that my mind pondered internally. I am being crucified by anger as my emotions enslaved me; in the same way her whiteness and God once enslaved my kind.”
I am doing some experimental fictional writing. I am developing a character who is southern and black. I am furthering his complexity as he struggles with the poor black community he grew up in; his lack of clarity regarding his sexuality; his distrust of religion, as well as his anger towards black people and distrust of whites. I will share more in the future as this character grows in my notes.
He is learning to deal with his anger towards folks of his own kind – southern, urban, and black. He is bitter about the hypocrisy of black and white Christians. His contact with white people is very limited due to the enclave I have placed him in. It gets interesting once he is forced to deal with the white world. But for now, I am keeping him in my journal.
I just taught my last class for today as I start my 15th year of teaching. This will be my finest year. I would like to dedicate this year to my former CAC students whom I first taught in Little Rock, as well as Ronnie Sewell who is now the Head at ACA, my high school. He offered me my first job after graduate school. Today we here at Brooks School started the year with an outside chapel convocation on one of the campus lawns up from the lake.
This simple point consumes my life. If I am not writing, I am thinking about it. I am okay with blank pages for now, as I move from just formal academic writing. I am playing with words for the first time in my life; it is fun. In many ways I am simplifying my vocabulary.
As a teacher who is passionate about the plight of different people — those who are like me as well as different from myself, I have made it my truth, journey, and mission to surround myself with differences. Holding to this belief means that I cannot be in institutions that struggle in their mission of accepting others. I was challenged this summer to think about the folks in my life. What do they look like? Who are they? How do I want my students to see my relationship with others? It takes work to create meaningful and diverse relationships; I am ready for the challenge. I think about the meaningful relationships I created with the above group this summer; I do not want that to dissipate; hence, I am focusing my efforts on creating a bond with people who love and care about other people: Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, Gay, Lesbian, Queer, Bisexual, Transgender, Muslim, Christian, Agnostic, and Atheist; it does not matter. This is the kind of diversity that allows people to grow in their intellect, religious briefs, compassion, and mission. Diversity is at the heart of education.
The image above is one of my favorites; I was asked if I am pro-gay recently. I stated NO; I am pro-people. If that means supporting love — so be it. Marriage equality and having LGBTQ friends is about being pro-people. My intellect is driven on the notion that diversity of others allows us to be better people.
Filed under Diversity, Gays
I am spending a great deal of time today studying Richard Wright. I cannot help but note how Wright so eloquently defined black alienation in Bigger Thomas — the victim of racism, classism, and urbanism in Native Son. As I tell my students, Bigger represents every emotional anger held by Wright. Both Christ and Bigger were ignored by the communist. There was no Proletarian revolution. Bigger represents Christ in so many ways. Poor, isolated, and seeking meaning in a world that rejected him. Many will argue that Christ understood his role and purpose, but like Bigger, Christ was executed and sought an explanation from God as to why. Bigger was a victim of society. Black folks failed Bigger. Christians and communists ignored him. And, white people killed him. Wright does not care for religion. His relationships with Christians did not permit an opportunity to explore faith. His upbringing in the Deep South only furthered his anger.
I love this note from a mucho awesome former student to me: “In the wake of Robin Williams’ passing, I wanted to thank you for playing a John Keating-esque role to me during junior and senior year. Indeed, teaching me (and many others) to truly suck the marrow out of life, often by exposing us to a viewpoint or work of varying degrees of unfamiliarity, is one of the greatest legacies any educator, especially yourself, can leave on any student who walks through classroom doors (hopefully to a Harkness-style table, not a desk)”. Thank you.