Yea…the Coloreds. These anecdotes occurred several months ago, so some of the details may not be details at all. They may be ultra-slight fabrications exaggerations, but if you believe the all words written in any religious text are true, then you surely would not problem believing every word I wrote is fact.
I love living in Black communities. I love driving home at 1am and seeing tomorrow’s Governors and dime-store philosophers go toe to toe in the streets. I love routinely seeing two or three Sheriff cars – and nearly as many liquor stores – in my brisk four-minute drive from the highway to my parents stoop. I love seeing those worn and faded Obama shirts standing in front of the aforementioned liquor stores at 11am. I love it! How many people have physical “Welcome Home” mats? They daily reminders that I am not in Beverly Hills – or Lakewood for that matter. If I lived in Brentwood, I would not have been able to accompany Rodney, his grandmother, and great-aunt to Wal-Mart the day after I lost my voice. The same trip in which Rodney’s Great Aunt ignored the fact I sounded like a broke Tom Waits and proceeded to ask me for the third time in ten days about what kind of movies I make. Of course, I respond only to have her re-affirm for the fifth time in ten days that, contrary to my beliefs, I am going to make it big one day. She said it so earnestly, I could not respond. Yet, people believing in me for no reason is not an isolated incident.
In early 2007 as I waited on my rejection letter from film school, I worked the Black History Olympics (BHO) . It’s an annual contest that pits Atlanta area elementary schools against each other in a Black History Quiz Bowl. Family members are invited to watch the award ceremony, which is also used to thank those who have helped make BHO possible. Over the mic, Dr, Hopkins informs the crowd that Seni and I are going to Graduate school, although neither us had been admitted yet. Did I mention that I strongly believed I was not going to get into film school? STRONGLY! Being so strongly convinced, I had to voice my apprehension, and I did. Later in the ceremony, some of the family members of the students stood up to voice their heartfelt gratitude toward the BHO workers. This one man I never met, stood up brimming with a sense of pride that nearly put him in tears and he told me over, in front of this crowded cafetorium, that I am going to go film school. “You may not know it, but I do. I do,” he stated as I avoided eye contact with him. I could not stand there, watch him, and withstand that attack. This man who knows me not from Adam is more convinced of my future than I am. His fervor shook me to the core. I felt as if he were trying to get into film school too.
One day looking to get on the I-105, a man approached my vehicle. For those who do not have pleasure of living in a working-class – and I use that loosely (15% Black unemployment rate in California) – community, people approach your car daily. At this on ramp, it is not uncommon for three or four people to ask you for help. Frankly, I do not always want to help, but this day was one of my helping days. I rolled my window down to oblige. Judging by the blindingly, golden sun that hovered right behind his head, this must have occurred around dusk when I placed the change in his cup. i expected the routine “Thank You” or even the always soulful “Thank You, brothah,” but not this guy. He just stood there…looking at me. Hoping the light would change and save me from having to bear a plea for more money, I began to turn my attention away. Then, he muttered something. “Wha-.” With the sun was directly behind him, I could not fully make out his face. All I could make out was a smile. I put my hand in a futile attempt to block the sun and through his wide smile he said “Never stop reaching your dreams young man.” Again, he stood there…smiling. Flustered, I stared back. The light’s green. I drive off.
My community, whether it is Los Angeles, Atlanta, or Chicago, never falls to remind me how far we have come while simultaneously reminding how much further me still need to go. Whether this is done through the slight rushes of pride that sweeps over elderly Black folks when I mention what I have accomplished or that young ball player who damn near brought me tears when he confessed he liked the way speak. All of these people share a belief in me that, as of yet, is unsubstantiated. I have not reached my true potential yet. Still, they believe I will. All of these people feel my successes are theirs, and they are. I would be here writing this silly post if it were not for these people. I Thank you. I live to not disappoint you. If I do disappoint you, let me know.