That Girl Beat Me Up! (or Every Little Boys' Nightmare Come True!)

For as long as i can remember, i used to get beat up. It was not unusual for me to come home almost everyday from school crying or with a torn up shirt, a bloody nose or busted lip... now don't get me wrong, i am not the kind of person who goes looking for fisticuffs but somehow watching that Daniels kid get beat up or being the one to beat him up was something akin to a national past time back in the day...

Now to make it a bit more shaming (and please don't read anything sexist into this... it just is, what it is ok?) more often than not, i was getting my head handed to me by not just any other kid but in particular, i seemed to be the kid that the girls liked to pick on and beat up. To this day i still do not know why but somehow i always manged to tick Helga or Hildegarde off and then i was told that after school, it was "on".

You want to talk about humiliating... can't get much worse than knowing everyday not only are you going to end up in a fight you'll lose (because you don't know how to fight) but add to that the fact that it's in all likelihood going to be a girl who takes you down...

So why share this chapter of my life fit for the wall of shame?

Because of Sam... actually her name was Samantha but she told me to call her Sam. It amazes me that after all these years i remember her name...

For some reason Sam liked me and decided that i was going to be her boyfriend and of course i agreed... she was cute, she had braids and a pretty smile and plus if i had said no... i think she would have beat me up too. One day though Sam found out that Sandra was going to beat me up after school... not sure why Sandra wanted to be me up... must have just been her turn up to "bat". But Sam came out of school that day stood between me and Sandra and told Sandra that before she could be me up she would have to beat Sam up... come to think of it, that was the last time that year anyone threatened me... Sam made sure i was ok.

Not sure whatever happened to Sandra or Sam.... i imagine Sam probably competed under a pseudonym on American Gladiators or something... Sandra however...who knows?

One thing is for sure, that one year with Sam changed me, not because i became this great fighter but because Sam in her own way helped me see myself as worthy of being defended. i am still not sure what she saw in the quiet little boy with a thick New York accent but as i have said elsewhere i still remember Sam's name. And that says a lot more than anything else....


Where Did The Month Go?

Hmmm... sort of interesting that Black History month is about over and in many ways, there seemed to be pretty much a collective cultural yawn about it all. Perhaps the assumption that more would be made of this month of remembrance and recognition because of the presence in the White House of our nation's first Chief Executive of color, was mistaken on my part.
There are some who i suspect would say..."Well see we're past the obsessive need to see people as a color...".

i certainly hope not.

i looked to see if there might be special presentations on television or in newspapers and there didn't seem to be too much... maybe special gatherings in the local community i live in but nothing. i begin to wonder why.

The fact is, the color of a person's skin should be celebrated and recognized as a gift. Being able to celebrate a cultural heritage and share stories with those around us who perhaps have a different shade of skin color really should enrich our lives. Dr. King never said skin color didn't matter... he did however talk a lot about the content of one's character... which i believe is definitely shaped by the stories of our lives. I can't help but wonder now that our nation has openly elected a person of color to the Presidency, will there be an even louder cry to "stop making a 'big deal' out of a person's racial or ethnic background..."

i do hope that not only would we make it a point of learning and continuing to celebrate the contribution of Black Americans to this nation but that we would learn to recognize the unique contributions of other Americans from different ethnic backgrounds as well. To me this is what makes our nation so incredible... so many different people, making a such significant difference... such an incredible place to live!


The Greatest....

When i was kid, some of the greatest sports icons of all time were at the height of their careers, Arthur Ashe, Muhammad Ali, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Bill Russell, Walt Frazier, Jim Brown, Wilma Rudolph to name a few. As a child i had no idea what these people had to go through to get to the level of professional sports they had attained.

All i knew was that they were fun to watch! Everyone on my street wanted to hit like Hammerin' Hank or "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee"... We would talk for days on end about what this pro athlete had done or (since I lived in New York City as a kid) who was seen at what places around the city! It was pretty exciting to see men and women who looked like me doing these incredible things.

i wasn't a very good athlete as a little kid but i knew what was good game when i saw it. My mom on the other hand was a bit of a sports nut. Looking back on it now it's funny to me that she used to talk all the time about players like Bob Gibson and Roberto Clemente or she would tell me about the starting line up for the New York Mets or whether or not the Jets were going to be any good that year!

My mom wasn't ever truly a "franchise" or team fan but she was always talking to me about the great players in all sports and more often that not she was telling me about the great players who were black and helping me understand the sacrifices that these people were making in order that the door to professional sports would never be slammed shut in the face of future black athletes.

Perhaps that is not a big deal to you... maybe in light of what professional sports seems to have become today you feel a bit jaded toward these people but to a wide eyed little boy, looking for people to look up to and admire it made a pretty big difference.



Welcome to our world little dude!