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Reflections on 911

Trying to think through it and break it down.

Perhaps it is knowing what we can do Together. Dumb me, I really think a few of us can get together and change the world.

And knowing that if we could do it by ourselves, there would have been no need for God to create billions of us.

There would not be billions of us, with billions of lives and loves.

So we try to make it through. And if we are smart, we get the stuff we need and understand the importance of connecting. We will get and understand being part of a group, a team, a community. We will move towards some basic respect for

It really is about one heart to another, your heart, my heart

I banter this around from time to time with one of my most loved friends, who is agnostic, (and we do make lots of healthy banter discussing the finer and duller points of human nature)

What I just don’t understand

Why can’t we just live and let live.

And respect life.

I do not know why if I am so smart on the tests and charts,

why can I not figure this whole thing out.

It makes my stuff (all that crap that is so deep in your life) feel small.


And as a Black woman, in this country at this time

I have to wonder can we get big again.

How I can get big again?

I need to be BIG again.

I am Big, and I am in the company of BIG folks.

We just have to get

there from here.

Then, I have to process on another level

Which is really about faith.

Blind faith, on some levels.

Heartfelt faith.

A leap.

A windswept soar.

With the freedom and freefall of a child.

No fear, just letting it Be.

The people we all should be.

Because you know that all of this did not just happen

All these folks and animals and stuff (the things that we call life) did not ooze and crawl out of some primordial soup without guidance. Guidance that probably also influenced whether your soul ended up in America or in a squatters camp in Cuba or Haiti, or other places that many Americans are just learning to pronounce.

Which has to make us wonder where we are now,

And how do we acknowledge the American gift?

How do we care for it and preserve it?

How do we evaluate the cost of our gift?

This is my country.

Land that I love.

But, as a person of color, more often than not, this country has not treated me

with love in return. I am like Cinderella without the fairy godmother. I have been as valuable to this country as gold. I will say that some of corporate America got it a while ago, not necessarily because it was right, but because it just made financial sense. Diversity was the buzzword of the 90’s. (Also, I will say that the understanding has ENTIRELY missed the state of Tennessee.) So the whole diversity movement just makes sense because corporations need new customers and new markets. Expanding the marketing pool makes money. Particularly when you look at the size and spending power of Blacks, Hispanics and Asian Americans.

Amazing is the nature of marketing, and as a marketing professional, perhaps I see it differently than most folks. I know that. But after September 11, 2001, there has been an interesting campaign done by the Ad Council. The ad shows more diversity, more folks of color than I have EVER seen in a 30 second spot. All letting us know that they are American, tagged as of all things, a public service announcement. I am sorry, but the whole ad campaign bugs the hell out me.

All of a sudden, we have to define who is American. I think that is part of what made us asleep at the switch while planes flew into buildings. This country has spent a lot of time and energy watching the brown and black folk in this country, more so after the demise of communism and with the OJ Simpson verdict. I do recognize that it is human nature to need an enemy to focus on. Sad thing is African Americans became the enemy in many white folks sights.

And so, from one day to another, from the 10 to the 11th, I became American. Which tells me that the ad council is a bit confused. I have been an American, all my life. I did not need a commercial to tell me that. I suspect that neither do many of the actors in the commercial, even though they were happy for the work. But we know we are American; we are the underpinning of this country. We keep this country running. And in most cases, we do it with far more class than any Enron executive ever could.

I am American. I always have been. Sad that many in this country need a commercial, a public service announcement, to tell them that.

Instead, I would rather see a commercial that perhaps informs people of the contributions of people of color, because clearly many in the dominant culture need that information.

A great friend of mine made the comment after September 11th that many folks in this country were focused on black and brown folks prior to the tragedy as being the biggest threat to their personal safety. We speculated on if life would become easier for Black folks, since white folks now had a new focus. We shall see.

I say, we built most of this. We have defended this country in war after war as I am sure we will do now, and probably our participation will be in greater proportion to our population than our white comrades. We all become American in times of crisis. But when can America truly see people of color, all colors as being part of the necessary palate of life?

I was fortunate enough to see Jane Elliot (brown eyed/blue eyed experiment ) shortly after coming to the University of Tennessee. I love her comment on diversity in America. She speaks on the “melting pot” and how the concept of making all of us he same, as if we must all merge together into one collective homogeneous group is not who we should strive to be. Instead she refers to America as a great tossed salad, where the tomatoes compliment the lettuce, set off by the croutons, accented by the sharp cheddar…etc.; all the components creating a cacophony of sight, taste and emotional experiences.

I do love a good salad.

I have said in my classroom on more than one occasion,

Sometime I am as big as the ocean, as powerful as the universe,

And sometimes I am as small as a grain of sand, part of a beautiful beach, joining all the other grains of sand to make a vision of beauty.

But, I am a part of the energy of the planet.

And, so are you.

So, what are you going to do?

I don’t have all the answers.

Not sure that I quite know what the questions really are.

But do know that it is about us, us as a group and some common goals.

And, my hope is that Black folks get back to getting it. We have a former first lady who wrote a book titled after an African Proverb, “It Takes a Village.” We need to focus on building our village. We want a village that has roots in this country. We built it, and we deserve it. It is as much ours as any and everyone else here.

But,,. We have to screw the stupid stuff.

We need to focus in and take care of ourselves.

My Beautiful People

We need to reach out a hand,

Here and there, but now to each other.

Make that connection.

Make that business connection to make us stronger.

Make that life/love connection.

And make that God or Higher Power connection.

I am as Big as the Universe.

I am as small as a grain of sand.

And I am blessed.

And God bless you.