I sat in my backyard reading on a hot Saturday afternoon. It was the 4th of July week-end, and I had pages to go before I slept. During the peak of the Black Lives Matter movement, I resolved to read more about the life of minorities, racism, civil disobedience and much more. The son & I had painstakingly collated a list after reading several lists online, suggestions from friends, teachers, colleagues, and the companies we worked for. If there are any other recommendations, please let me know in the comments section. (Thank you 😊 )
- Becoming – by Michelle Obama
- Civil Disobedience – by Henry David Thoreau
- Sneetches and other Stories – By Dr Seuss
- A Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela – Abridged by Chris Van Wyk
- Black Panther – by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- XVIII – 13th Netflix Documentary
- Hidden Figures movie
While I sat reading, there was a faint niggling guilt to the apparent normalcy of it all. Was it alright to be sitting calmly and reading in one’s backyard while the world around us was still reeling?
I read as the sun overhead appeared to move towards the west, and finally got up to take a long walk. If anything, I had several things to think about in the book. There was a section in the book where she writes about failure being a feeling that sets in long before failure itself does. She writes about this in the context of the South Side in Chicago, and how the ghetto label slowly portended its decline long before it did. Families fled the place in search of upwardly mobile suburbs, the neighborhood changed in small, but perceptible ways at first, and then at an accelerated pace. Doubt is a potent potion, and when fed in small portions can quickly shadow everything.
The limitations of dreams are seeds planted in our sub-conscious slowly and surely so that we may fulfill what society thinks we ought to do, no more and no less. Minorities the world over know the feeling well enough.
Trevor Noah, in his book, Born a Crime, writes about the ability to dream being limited to what a person knows. If all people know is the ghetto, they can truly not think beyond that.
“We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.” – Trevor Noah – Born a Crime
The largest section of population to know these limitations must be women.
In the Moment of Lift, Melinda Gates writes in her very first introductory chapter, “All we need to uplift women is to stop pulling them down.”
It was, therefore, in sombre mood that I set out for the walk, little knowing that Serendipity, that most mysterious of forces will work its magic by the end of the night.
I walked on taking in the setting sun at a fast pace. My mask hoisted on the face was sweaty, and every now and then on the trail when there weren’t people nearby, I slipped it down to take a deep breath of the summer air. I was walking by the waterside, and slowly feeling the calm strength of the waters. My thoughts were slowly lifting as the sun was setting, and the full moon rose in the opposite direction. Out in the distance, the sound of Fourth of July fireworks was providing an orchestra of sorts to the accompanying bird sounds, and the sound of water sloshing gently against the shores of the lake.
“Bring the kids – sunset and moonrise marvelous and fireworks everywhere!” I texted the husband, and off we went in the approximate direction of the fireworks. We parked on a side road to take in the revels of the night. To stand there with the full moon behind us, and an array of fireworks going off in front of us in a largely residential neighborhood was marvelous.
Later, as we drove on, we listened to songs chosen with a special regard to the 4th of July. The children had aced the list, and we drove on through the moonlight, lilting and dancing to the tunes.
“Behind the Clouds, the sun is shi—ii—ning. “ – What has to be one of our favorite Disney songs rent the car as we pulled into the garage.
As I read the final section of Michelle Obama’s Becoming later that night, I found the audacity of hope (pun intended) stirring and this too felt different; worth examining. Politics is a dirty game, but Barack & Michelle Obama had shown us what was possible. Dare we hope?
P.S: I was blissfully unaware of (yet another) divisive speech by Donald Trump, and the announcement of Kanye West to run for President that night. I like to hold on to that glimmer of hope that permeated my heart as 4th of July ticked on steadily into the 5th of July.
Maybe hopes can translate to positive outcomes long before they happen.