The Exhaustion of Excellence.

When I reflect on the memory of my first lesson in life, I can remember one valuable lesson; be the very best at what you choose to do. As my Mother would say, “it doesn’t matter if you choose to pick up garbage, you should be the best garbage collector the world has ever seen.” Those words resonated with me then as they resonate with me now. Be the very best at what you choose to do. In all things that I have done, (maybe with the exception of personal relationships), I have tried to be the best at what I chose to do. You see, when I had a goal in mind, I slept with that goal. I ate with that goal. I walked with that goal. I bathed with that goal. I spoke words of affirmation into that goal. I breathed that goal. In fact, I wasn’t even me; I was an extension of that goal. Once acquired, there was no room for error; no margins for mis-steps. I had to be excellent every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day. It was exhausting. Can you believe that I even tried to take a professional approach to private matters? Yes, I did that. As an African American, unfortunately, this experience isn’t exclusive to me. In fact, I have never met an African American who didn’t feel, hear, aspire, or live this same ideology. I’ll be honest and say that it’s exhausting. I’m not always my best. Most days, I’m trying to breathe. I’m trying to make some sense of all of this madness. Michael Jackson was the best. Whitney Houston was the best. Prince was the best. Jimi Hendrix was the best. You see the common thread; all found similar ways to dull the pain. Pain… The African American experience in America is everything but easy. There is no easy way to be ostracized, overlooked, disenfranchised, and/or marginalized and feel included. I do not feel included. I am a supplement; a spice only necessary for certain dishes. I hate that our excellence is drowned in a sea of mediocrity. Now, before anyone loses their minds, I’m not saying that my Caucasian counterparts are incapable of excellence. All that I am saying is that excellence isn’t recognized in the same ways. As I have written before, I will repeat now; a saw a national news story about a kid who spoke to a cashier at the supermarket. Wow. When in Baltimore, I had a student who found the dead body of his overdosed brother, came to school the next day, refused to give up or in, and wrote a song to help others. Do you know what not only the national news, but also, the local news said about it? Nothing.. I had a student whose Mother was beaten to death by her boyfriend, moved in with a foster family, decided that education was her liberation, and studied her way to another life. Do you know what not only the national news, but also, the local news said about it? Nothing.. Yet, here we are in 2022 talking about conversations with cashiers at Trader Joes. More importantly, there is legislation that is beginning to sweep the land indicating that White people shouldn’t feel guilt in the classroom as a result of the crimes of their ancestors. 2022… News flash, African American children are so numb to their pain, they confuse it with normalcy. As a people, we don’t have the luxury of feeling guilt. No, we have the burden of feeling shame. It’s shameful that the first images that we see of ourselves in a schoolhouse is that of a slave. White Americans speak of patriotism and sacrifice; African Americans felt only hypocrisy and bondage. White Americans have had forty five White Presidents. We had one and the Earth not only stood still, but shifted on it’s axis in the opposite direction. When White Americans go to court, they receive justice. When we go to court, it’s a lottery in Vegas. Everyone knows the golden rule in Vegas; the house always wins. The house is still winning. This may be professional suicide, but I’m going to say it anyway. I’d rather struggle and die as a free man than live in a gilded cage as a less than self-actualized Black Man. Our children need to know about their past. They need to know that what happened to their ancestors was a crime against humanity. They need to know their origins. They need to know their language, learn it, speak it, and communicate with it when the English language falls short. They need to know their original religion. They need to know the why of it all. If the things that they need to know interfere with what White Americans have always known, I’ll say this; it’s about damn time. If this land is my land and your land because it was made for you and me, both of us deserve to know our truths. Maybe then, and only then, will there be liberty and justice for all. Until then, when you speak of White guilt, I’ll remind you of unseen, unspoken, and sadly unrecognized Black tears. When you speak of White progress, I’ll remind you of Black theft. What do you see when you look at me? The fearful look in your eyes is a constant reminder that you’re looking at the very thing that you are trying to convince us that we’re not; direct descendants of God…Patrick

As always, this week, please do something for someone other than yourself for no reason at all other than to make their lives better. If you make it to where you’re going, please don’t forget to leave a map for the rest of us. Always Choose Love Because Love Changes Everything..

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