I really am speechless but I have to say something


The events of the past few months have been mind-numbing. For me, this is what happens when I get overloaded with so much negativity.  I go numb and then I have to process all my feelings.  This helps me be logical and rational when all those around me seem to be falling apart.  I used this process all through college, medical school, residency training and now as a residency faculty.

I am starting Yoga Teacher Training.  I am going to use it to teach anyone who will let me all the techniques I have learned to have balance mentally, physically and emotionally. More about that journey in another post.

I went to HS in 1971 and graduated in 1975. A great deal had happened and was happening in Birmingham, Alabama.  We (Black students)  were integrating predominantly White schools and we  all had to adjust. I learned how volatile and fragile this coexistence would be when I lost the race for Student Body President in 1974.  I had an energized campaign with posters, a member of the football team as my campaign manager and a great staff of friends.  We blanketed the school with posters with snappy campaign slogans. I spent hours writing my speech for the assembly. I wore my beautiful green pantsuit (school colors) on Election Day. I would be the first “Black” student body president if I won. So tensions were running high and we were scared of being robbed of our victory.  I lost to the White quarterback and captain of the football team.  The end of my junior year had many achievements.  The band was led by a Black Drum Major; we had one black majorette, two black cheerleaders, a star Black running back for out  football team , a great basketball team and even a Black president of the national Honor Society.

The coexistence we had achieved could have unraveled. We could have degenerated into rage. I really think our parents would have come up to the school and made us regret that move.   We (Black students) congregated in the football stadium.  My campaign manager was upset and so was I. That moment, I  had to decide whether to let that anger take me and us over or propose a different solution. I presented it and they were more upset.  I had to hold back tears and manage my anger. So, I chose to take the role as Parliamentarian .  That was the position always offered to the losing candidate for president.  It gave me a place on the Student Council and made me an officer.   I also had to teach parliamentary law to all the student council members. I became an expert and taught the best course ever done.   It got me into Tri-Hi-Y and paved the way for the person who would later be the first Black Student Body President. We all had a choice to make that day and the wrong one would have changed the course of our lives.

I watched John Lewis as he skillfully tried to respond to the House protest over the failure to pass gun legislation and I could feel his attempt to display calm amid the storm. He is a shining example of the art. They were our examples. .  So, as I looked back on that time in HS, I realized that we all used “excellence” and restraint  to overcome prejudice and stereotypes.  We had an award winning marching band, cheerleading squad, majorettes and football team.  The school choirs – male and female glee clubs- were award winning and we had the best end of year musical competitions ever.   We sent a large number of Black students off to college on academic and athletic scholarships.  They all went on to excel.  We reluctantly became a family and in 1975, we had the first integrated Prom.  Our theme was ” Like A Bridge Over Troubled Waters.” Many of our parents came and it went off without incident.

So what am I trying to say? Learning to respect what a person contributes can make us all successful. We spend too much time being afraid to allow every person the opportunity to succeed not realizing that there is enough for all of us. When every student had the opportunity to be in the school choir, the result was a beautiful melody that brought tears to your eyes.  My sister sang in the Glee Club and my best friend went on from Glee Club to major in music and have an award winning school music program.

Maya Angelou expressed it best in “Human Family”

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I’ve sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I’ve seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I’ve not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England’s moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we’re the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

10 thoughts on “I really am speechless but I have to say something

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