Thursday, August 27, 2015

Is my education a problem?

Yes, I’m a baby boomer. Born of the 1950s generation. Celebrated by many as the generation of impact. Enough of us to change the world.

The Civil Rights era gave us access. We invaded the hallowed halls of previously predominantly white institutions. And yes, we swelled the rolls of the Historically Black Colleges as well. We not only went to public schools, but private and parochial schools as well. Degrees were greater than high school diplomas – Bachelor’s, Masters’ and PhDs.

And beyond Civil Rights, there were wars to be protested. The Hippies who defied convention, the Pacifists and others who marched against the war we decided was unjust and had gone on too long. Protesting and overturning the mandatory recruitment of young men, the burning of draft cards. And the women – demanding the rights afforded the men – hallowed institutions invaded by not just Black people, but rights afforded against all matter of discrimination.

Yes, I attended the first march on Washington, D.C. to protest the war in Viet Nam. Yes, I dated Jewish boys and Italians and learned all the words to protest songs. Yes, my environment was fully integrated - my school, my neighborhood, my friends. In situations where there were only one, or two, or three of us, our solidarity ceased at knowing each other’s names, we were free to befriend whomever we liked.

We traveled. Oh the places we’d go, the borders we’d cross, the people we’d meet, the stereotypes we challenged – both in ourselves, our history, and in others.

At 10 months old I attended my first dance performance at Radio City Music Hall. It was Easter. At 14, I traveled to the British West Indies. At 17, I traveled to Europe with my Girl Scout Troop. At 21, I traversed the continent on a Greyhound bus including Toronto and Montreal, Canada. At 22, I moved from the East Coast to the West Coast and danced in a dance company. 

My friends were doing the same. Girls that were NOT light, bright, or  damn near white, were performing in events OTHER than Black dramas; dancing in more than Black dance companies; working in jobs far more significant than helpers or assistants. We were the generation of hundreds of ‘the first Black…’ fill in the blank. And the culmination of our success was the election of the first Black President!

Yes, we are different. We are doctors and lawyers, judges and teachers, professors and scientists, politicians and poets, and we are independent. 

Whether to our detriment or to our desire, we are fiercely independent. Therein lies the rub. We don’t ‘have’ to live anywhere. We don’t ‘have’ to be anything other than what we work, live and strive to do. There are no boundaries, there is no ‘color’ line in our experience. Maybe society has that notion, but it is not bred into those of us who continue to strive to be ‘more.’ We are more than Middle class as we have overcome more than a monetary distinction; we are more than the elite as we have overcome more than an insidious racial barrier; and we are more than worthy of that which we have striven to learn and become through the overwhelming barriers and obstacles we were forced to conquer.

Don’t be hatin'.

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