I thought I knew me,
25 and alive, naive to the vibes of undetermined skies ahead.
Who are you? I knew not om; om was a transitory being with a role to play but
not the reality of totality that is and isn’t the sum of all that is inspired and inert, alive and dead.
Espouse the viewpoint that I was a collection of my past, this life and beyond,
But did I really consider what I meant by that?
Had I reflected on what that meant for om’s positioning in life today, with beds and couches and cars and houses and smarts and skills and hikes and thrills and money and clothes and friends and all those who support me and praise me and believe me and trust me and those who do not ignore me or fear me or score me don’t come near me?
Had I given credence to the idea that I could only think this way because of notme,
that the launching pads they built for me, that mom and dad they spilt for me, that friends and fam they billed for me, all so I could climb the hill and begin to see?
This isn’t a debate on nurture or nature. I’m not qualified for that sermon.
This is a question of why I get to be who I am and why kids I serve every day don’t.
Look at that – I phrased it wrong. Ego got me thinking they want to be me.
No, my question is why the kids don’t get to be free?
I spin deeper and deeper into that abyss of guilt and why me? It arrests my mind and traps me. It’s not white guilt. I’m not white. Though I did once say “I am essentially white” in a group of black people to try to show them how super-woke and aware I was of my privilege. Am I allowed to say woke? Can I use that hashtag? Number signs telling me I’m fit for this job and that, that it’s essentially going to be up to me to choose my path. No statistic leads me to question my smarts, no stat predicts me scoring lower on tests assessing my neighbor’s upbringing, no studies pigeon-holing me into that from which I cannot climb. And yet, I spin deeper and deeper. Who am I to work here? Who am I to talk like I know what I’m saying? Who am I to even be worthy of this guilt?
The goal is not guilt. The goal is awareness. Acknowledgement.
Understanding that I can go where I go because of where They went.
Knowing that I can lift off and fly because they built a ladder up from the pavement.
Seeing my privilege as reality, working to give back what They’ve sent.
Never lacked the courage for this talk. Just lacked the space to let it walk.
You say underserved communities enough times, and you start to ask why under? Why them?
Why them and not me? What’s different about my identity?
Why mine feels free, yet theirs is expensive? What’s my role, in this extensive
web of systems and rules, regulations and fools?
I can’t walk that walk, can’t fight that fight, till I know who I am, do I stand for what’s right? What’s left of me when banality wears away and what’s up and what’s down and what am I down with today?
Who am I? What’s my role? What can I bring; can I bring my soul? Am I bought, am I sold, am I taught, am I told? Why do I fit? What qualifies me? Will this reflective churning bring out my identity?