The Wheel

Posted by Just Jamaal Monday, January 18, 2010

Today, I got up and helped my little one get something for breakfast. I was in the middle of connecting to my work network so I could clean up some loose ends. I carried my laptop to the kitchen and set it down while getting the little one a plate and making myself some much needed coffee.

"Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day Papa."

I was a little irritated by the words. Not because of the day or having anything major against the Man it was meant to honor. More so because it made me think my little one had little grasp on any of the reasons or circumstances that led to a day in his name. So I asked her...

"Do you know anything about who that is?"

This led us into conversation about history, about my little one's place in it. I grabbed the laptop and before I knew it my morning gave way to history lessons and video viewings of different parts of the civil rights era. Before I get too deep into it, understand that this is not an MLK or Black History blog. No, this start to my day led me to a point of self reflection that I haven't given proper attention.

I wonder if my parents are disappointed in the type of man I've become? Perhaps a small bit of perspective first.

My mother came of age in the civil rights era. She was a member of the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee. Later, she would join the Panther Party and meet my father. I explained this to my little one as we discussed different aspects of the 50's and 60's. As we talked and I watched her intently watching the videos I'd pulled up on the laptop, I thought of my Mother, talking to me about her experiences when I was my little one's age. I remember my father telling me stories of narrow escape and the brothers I was named after. I remember feeling a sense of pride from a young age to be the child of such conscious people. That was before the complexities of real life washed the romanticism away for good.

My relationship with my parents have since strained. My parents don't exactly agree with the decisions I've made for myself and my family. As I've grown and my life's picture as become clearer, I've come to view the decisions they've made through the eyes of a parent. I've become disheartened as I realize the impact their remissions have had on my life. I consider this as I teach my own child about the history that has shaped me, her mother & her. I consider how I'll react when she grows old enough to judge my life and the decisions I've made. I wonder if I'll be disappointed by the direction she takes, the way my own parents must be disappointed with me.

It's not with regret that I dwell on this thought today. It's a way of paying homage to where I've come from while also considering what the future may hold. It scares me a little.

I realize that we all must grow and find our own perspective paths. We never seem to realize as we are being shaped, all of the factors that shape us. We are often shaped most by the variables we seek to avoid.


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