Feeling Limited? Explore the World
While traveling pretty extensively through the United States, Europe, Africa, Mexico, and India, I have learned much about myself while outside the confines of my ‘hood’. All these places had very unique things to offer. While in Mexico I visited the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon. These places awed me with their spirituality. I could almost feel the people who frequented these places hundreds and hundreds of years ago. As well, I found the intellect and intricacy of the culture and the people who built these shrines fascinating.
In India I saw poverty that nothing in the United States could match. It is not uncommon for thousands of persons to live under bridges and along the banks of rivers. Filthy, barely clothed street beggars with outstretched hands formed impoverished human gauntlets through the streets of the major cities. But in the same country I saw beauty and wealth that was unimaginable.
Back in the day, the Moguls had some very, very serious cash. Much more than you could even imagine. While in Agra I walked beside a pavilion wall. When I cleared the wall, there stood the Taj Mahal—the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. I stood motionless, my breath taken away, for five or more minutes. That’s just how stunning it is.
A full quarter mile before reaching her royal presence, the spray of water from Africa’s Victoria Falls soaked my clothing. The falls is without a doubt the mightiest and most grand sight I have ever seen. Its length and breadth are amazing; millions and millions of gallons of water tumble majestically down to the gorges below. I cried half the day because such an incredible and glorious sight existed in a place from which black people were taken hundreds of years ago. I cried because I knew without a question that only a smattering of black Americans would ever see it. And I cried because I doubted that very many of us even knew it was there.
While entering one African country from another, travelers must exchange their money in order to purchase items. In Kenya, I collected my bills. On each bill was a black man, presumably the king. He wore a crown and flashed the countenance of royalty.
“You mean this is cash?!” I blurted out, smiling wider than I ever had in my lifetime.
“Yes,” my puzzled guide answered.
“With this brother on it? I can spend this?”
My guide nodded back to me.
“Really?! That’s too cool!”
We are all part of a human race. Travel, even within the United States, will help each of us throw off the smallness of our neighborhoods and the smallness of our interactions with the same people—week in and week out. Give it a try.
From Hood Citizenship to Global Citizenship
Open yourselves up to the world. You will learn to respect the culture and history of all people. And, in turn, others will learn to respect your culture and history. While traveling not only did I learn about different cultures, but my world perspective was forever widened. I began to move away from the confining history of race relations in this nation. The grip of a four-hundred-year chokehold on my evolving psychological freedom began to loosen. Experiencing cultures and people beyond the ’hood initiated a transition to more global citizenship.
This, then, is the end of his striving: to be a co-worker in the kingdom of culture, to escape both death and isolation, to husband and use his best powers and his latent genius.
—W. E. B. DU BOIS, THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK
We must learn that the world is so much bigger and has so much more to offer than the ’hood. We must learn to take our places as global citizens, spreading ourselves and our history and culture beyond the confines of the Avenue or MLK Boulevard. We must become world citizens. But we cannot begin that process while engaged in the same things week in and week out. Going to get fish or barbeque every Friday is nice (and tasty), but there’s so much more to see (and even to eat). Expand yourself. Start small. Go to Greek Town and have something different to eat—preferably something on fire.
Damn it, throw all caution to the wind. Go see a play or an opera. Puccini’s Madama Butterfly or Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci will make even the toughest of thugs weep like babies. These activities are not white. Art, culture, travel, and other new experiences belong to everyone. We were kept in slave pens by race profiteers of yesteryear. Do not let yourself stay penned up in the ’hood by heeding the words of the race profiteers of today. Soon you will see that the ’hood is insufficient to meet your needs and those of your family. So my suggestion is that you start gathering boxes, funds, and friends with strong backs as soon as possible for your move out of the ’hood.
Black delayers, the world is moving forward with or without you. I fear that too many of you will be left behind, on the side of the road—waving and trying to get our attention as we march forward. I want so badly for you to do what you need to do to join us on this journey and not be left behind. Moving out and away from the ’hood and its racial and cultural isolation is not a matter of cannot. It is the enmeshment, codependency, and inertia of will not. It is a passage that your forebears have already paid for. It is a passage that your children and grandchildren deserve. Take the steps. Leave the Struggle and join us in the Advancement. I’ll see you there.
I got nothing but love for you.