One of my classmates from back in the day wrote this on his wall today (and I hope he doesn’t mind me using his words):
“MY MIDDLE SCHOOL TOOK A FIELD TRIP TO WATCH THE MOVIE MALCOM X. I DIDN’T KNOW AT THE TIME, BUT A SEED WAS PLANTED IN MY HEART AND MY LIFE EXPERIENCE HAS WATERED IT.. THATS WHY I AM THE WAY I AM..” -Silas Palance
His comment made me remember when I was at the edge of the rabbit hole with an arm sticking out that belonged to one of my best friends who was offering me the red pill. I took the pill and that was the beginning of what James Baldwin would say was the paradoxical moment of my education when I began to examine the society in which I was being educated. The amazing thing about taking the pill and jumping down the rabbit hole is the path of enlightening others can often be so dark for the one who is trying to be the one who enlightens. And, it is not an easy thing to ask others to jump into the hole. And, often, once in the hole not everyone who took the red pill sees everything the same because it is one’s experiences that shapes his or her consciousness.
But, to take a minute and think about the very beginning of one’s learning process about our society especially in regard to the marginalization of various races, classes, and genders is exciting. Not exciting because it is our true reality beyond what the media matrix presents, but exciting because one can evaluate what he has learned and how he’s taken that knowledge and applied it to his life and the other lives he has inspired.
And, I did.
Senior Year. 1999. C. A. Johnson High School. Lakeyta Bonnette, 3 year friend, offered me “FROM NIGGAZ TO GODZ.”
I’m sure you were expecting some long story the way I began, but really, that was all it took. That book then led me to “FROM NIGGAZ TO GODZ 2” and when I completed that I re-read “Malcolm X”.
Malcolm X, I believe, is the quintessential example of growth and development in a black man who cares about and is dedicated to his community. It is his legacy that has allowed so many others who live in the rabbit hole of consciousness to enlighten others because he set the precedent for our generation with him following those who came before him.
That senior year experience, with the influence of Malcolm X and Akil (the author of FN2G) has been the driving force for my passion for black studies, human equality, and what Hip-Hop and other scholars have coined “consciousness,” but I realize that it was all of my life experiences that created my thirst for knowledge–from playing Robert Smalls in a play in elementary school to having a dynamic teacher in middle school who was dedicated to ensuring we learned about our culture to those events aforementioned my senior year.
We all have starting points and we can all reflect on when we came into ourselves. When events happened that shaped us into the men and women we have become. And, if I had to do it all over again I’m not sure I would change a thing.
So, along with all of my other brothers and sisters who followed the white rabbit and swallowed the red pill, I say Happy Birthday to one of the greatest men who ever lived who helped shape me into who I am today.
J. Prince, Princepality 90