Tuesday, November 24, 2009

African American Literature

This one is not about boys, so if that is what you're tuning in for, apologies.


I am currently taking an African American Literature class. I had my reservations about regeristering for this class due to guilty feelings, (Although I hand no hand in slavery.) and sadness about all the social diseases that slavery has brought to the dinner table.

Due to this course I have read stories by Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, and James Baldwin, among others. I have read poetry by Langston Huhges, Countee Cullen, and Claude McKay, among others.

A few weeks ago I was given 'Evolution Of The Game,' Michael Oars story. And my current book club novel is, 'Same Kind Of Different As Me.'It's a true man's tale of how plantaion slavery (The slavery that continued on after Abe, thanks to -- "Not know'n any bett'r") ruined the first 62 years of his life. (Well, that is where I am, thankfully the story is looking up.) There is a definite Christian influence to it, which isn't bothering me too much. This is not my month, therefore I did not choose the book. Yet, what I am getting at is the current theme.

Earlier this evening, rightly fits with this theme. It was six hours ago that I had to wait for my connecting train at Newark, Penn Station. After dark the waiting area at this station is widely populated by homeless individuals, yes they were predominantly black, but there were white vegabonds as well.

There are many persons who tend to wait for their train at the track, or they crowd about the track entrance. This was not something I felt like doing. I wanted to sit in a warm place where I could continue to read the novel mentioned moments ago. I walked around attempting to seek out a spot on the wooden pew-like benches. The only decent space was closely between a homeless looking black gentleman and a black couple, so I sat.

Denver, the man in my novel dealt with homelessness for 20 or so years of his life -- The facts he was able to share have affected me to some extent, because in truth I would typically think twice about sitting beside a homeless person, black or white, without really thinking on it.

As I read on, there was an incident at the station. It was something having to do with someone being robbed, the accused was pulled aside, and the police were going through this person's back pack. The homeless gentleman to my left sat up straight in an effort to witness what every person was looking at. I was about to tell him what was going on when the woman to my right rose. While I was reading I heard her voice from time to time, so I looked up for a moment to place a face to the sound. And what I heard when I returned by eyes to the words were:

The Boyfriend: "Why you gotta put relaxer in your hair." (They were in mid conversation.)

The Girlfriend: "I gotta put relaxer in my hair to look like her hair cuz we aren't free." Then she went further on about her people not being free. As she spoke I attempted to tune her out as I mouthed the words of the novel, but this woman was looking directly at me and not at her gentleman friend as she went on. At this point I nearly blurted out -- The last time I checked our President is African American! But I held on because I knew she was upset for many reasons, I not being one of them. I did not give her any sort of special look. I think what provoked her was that I over heard something that she would rather not have me hear.

After leaving her presence without a word, I did some thinking on platform 5. The written works I have been reading are essential. It is important to know these details and try for a better understanding of what was. But I do not think I will ever truly grasp the pain that some people continue to live with due to race. And I wondered -- When will this whole thing end? I do not mean forgetting, I mean finishing.

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