The blessings of an enriched education

So to be honest, it can at times be a little terrifying…

“What?” you say,

– Education.

A classmate of mine once remarked snidely, “Give the black man a book and you’ve either incapacitated him, or made him the singularly most dangerous force on earth.”

While a bit dramatic, his words came to mind tonight, while studying at Panera. (I left after spilling a box of cereal in my room) I was tapping my pen to the sounds of Phineas Newborn Jr.’s A Night in Tunisia and snickering about Hephaestin, an enzyme that transports iron…(clear reference to Hephaestus ).
when 6’4″ hulk of human being (in papery-thin vanderbilt scrubs) walks up and escorts his (presumed) girlfriend from the counter and out the door. As he left we shared that o-so-special nod.

“Nod?” you say,

Yes. That fleeting moment where you see someone defying the stereotype. Someone wearing a suit, scrubs, or Judge’s gown. Heck – anyone not dressed like BET/MTV/VH1/FOX/CNN/MSNBC and clearly in pursuit of something better. The moment comes when they recognize you…and is usually followed by a curt nod of the head.

It’s kinda like the look two bald eagles would share while flying past each other en route to the eagletown apple store.

The look says – you’re one of the last of our breed aren’t you? The nod says…yes, as are you.

“Ok, now you’re just being dramatic” – you say.

You’re probably right…but in the ever ongoing battle between Republicans and Democrats, the issue of Black voting has resurfaced. Despite the passage of the 15th Ammendment in 1970, we’re apparently still the group at risk if picture IDs are required at the polls.

Wait – you mean after 142 years and 3 generations of iPads minorities could be exiled by a vote that requires a picture ID?

……”*Expletive.*”.

So I bring you back to Panera, back to my thoughts. A black kid listening to jazz, studying pathology, and giggling over pharmocology references to roman greek gods. I could not be more grateful for my education and opportunities…or more crushed by the paucity of them elsewhere.

Chris Rock, the (hilarious/notorious) comedian was featured on NPR last week, and speaks of his million dollar mansion…a mansion in a neighborhood of 100 million dollar mansions. Among those 100 Owners he says, are 4 Black people. They are:

Jay-Z.
Eddie Murphy.
Mary-J Blige.
and himself.

He then proceeds to note that while each of them can lay claim to the term “greatest” (comic/rapper/R&B artist etc.)
…His next door neighbor is a dentist.

I can’t wait until the nod means nothing more than…”nice shoes.”

and to whom it may concern….thanks for the education.

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3 comments

  1. Julian: I always find it interesting how people view themselves, and also feel categorized. I grew up in Chicago., in the 70’s. I had scores of Jewish friends and neighbors, and their self view and ethnic views harmonize with yours. I also had many black friends, and growing up in a culture where that wasn’t a bad thing, or a “thing” at all. My parents raised me to see all God’s children as possible angels. Treat everyone as if they were an angel, sent to earth to interact with us. Kind of a test. You worked with me, and I hope you saw that in me. I was never taught prejudice, or malace, simply love one another as you would love oneself. I found the defensiveness of many of my friends (Jewish, black, Polish, and on) for theri people puzzling, as it would seem you should stand only on your self. To this day, my interactions with people never see color, creed, nationality, only person. I constantly wonder why everyone isn’t like this.

    As for you – all I ever saw was a kind, smart, gregarious, empathetic, and hilarious young man with the world at his feet. Do you really see this differently?

    I know you might say, “Walk a mile in my shoes”. I can’t. The best I can do is to live to my principles. What other way is there?

    Your friend, DRP

    • Ever correct Dr. D.P,
      1) you are pretty awesome – and suffer from this unique ailment called “common sense” (hence the rules you’re so famous for) The concept of color-blindness is a tough one, as you have those who (because they grew up in a diverse America) only saw color, and are more “blind to homogeneity”. The other half, having never been in a position where they were not the overwhelming majority, sometimes are blind to the realities of race in this country.
      I’ve seen it intensely among some of my own classmates who never truly interacted with their majority counterparts, and possess an irrational distaste for them.

      2) Love wins out. A quality that (thankfully) you exhibited daily – (kinda nice to have a blueprint for my own eventual career.)

      3) I’m pretty grateful for every single one of the people in my life that built me into what I am today. Admittedly however, It can at times be hard to see what others see in you when you’re “among giants” so-to-speak.

      4) I wear size 11.5…and am extremely flat-footed. I can however say that love (and an active awareness of society’s current state) is enough.


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