A friend and I decided to start a joint 365 project so that we could share our writing and make sure that we are writing something everyday. I’ll post whatever I write for each day here as well. This is my first post. Go.
A man I once loved taught me a lesson on humanity. It was:
-Alex Haley, I said, Alex Haley. The man who wrote The Autobiography of Malcolm X. The man who wrote Roots.
-Roots? The mini series with Levar Burton.
-No, not the mini series. The book that inspired the mini series.
-Roots was a book?
-Roots is one of the most important books in American history. A slave narrative as told by a Black man unlike, almost opposite to Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
-That’s not American history; that’s African American history.
-American history, I said.
We were on the phone and the quietness of breathing ensued soon after I asserted myself as an American. I proceeded to wind my racial identity (my whole self) into a carefully kept ball and acted with gentle care when around him. I loved him no less, despite what he said, but I don’t know how much of me he got to know, how much of myself I undervalued — how many of my words and thoughts and feelings were lost in consumptive silence.
He’s probably forgotten that exchange, chalked it up to a slightly embarrassing faux pas. I haven’t allowed myself to forget, haven’t been afforded to opportunity to forget. I am left with the discomfort of having loved and been loved without understanding. Left with the tender sense that the man I loved erased people who looked like me. The man I loved undercut me as a person, undercut me to a nameless being, who at best, could be handled in the margins.