Moroni saw me daily
Merry Black History Month! My last contribution this season comes from my personal history. We each have a story to tell and I hope this starts a long list of personal stories we can share. The following excerpt is from Moroni Saw Me chapter three.
I LEARNED WHY TO HATE THE WORD Ni**ER.
I will forego using the true names of my bullies as a protection for them because Nashville is such a tiny town. Two White boys rode the same bus as my brother Reggie and I to school every morning. Of course, other kids who happened to be racially White rode the bus, but these boys were White first and kids last. The other kids on the bus just happened to be White.
These two White boys were big kids and were two of a few older kids that rode the same bus with a crash of elementary kids every morning. Reggie and I were the only Black kids on the bus—it seemed that way from my experience. Every morning, these kids would sit next to us on the bus and spew vitriolic slurs abusing us. Having lived in the urban culture where people used the word in diverse ways, I did not truly know what a ni**er was—its true definition. When those two White boys used the word, I did not appreciate how it rolled off their tongues—as if Reggie and I were beneath them, sub-human. (Ironically, I nurtured a friendship with the ringleader’s younger brother. We lived houses away from each other making us neighbors!)
All the kids on the bus feared them. We endured daily the racial slurs until the ringleader—I say ringleader because it was a freak-show circus act in my estimation with us as the freaks—told us that he would take my brother and me, “grease ‘em up real good,” lay us end to end and slide down the bus seats using our bodies! That makes no sense to me now, but then I was terrified! I was so terrified it etched in my psyche a permanent scar! I did the only thing I could think of. I told my cousin Aaron!
Aaron is my first cousin Johnny Lee’s (of whom I will speak later) youngest child who is a little above a year older than I am, but much, much larger. To illustrate, Aaron told me a story about his high school teacher telling him to stop acting his shoe size and start acting his age. He was 15 years old at the time. Guess what his shoe size was!
Aaron was nine or ten years old when I told him about my fear to get back on our school bus because two White boys wanted to make some type of play-ground slide out of Reggie and me. Aaron told his older sister Andrea, and one of his older brothers Johnny Junior our problem. The next day, the three of them walked to our house and rode the bus to school with us. Strangely, that day there was no name-calling. In fact, no more name-calling occurred thereafter. I assume greasin’ us up would have been harder to do with my three relatives strongly protesting it!
I realize that I have been going about this the wrong way with my books. I have been saying, "Look, I wrote a book. It is not that important, but buy it if you want. I write stuff."
That was the wrong way.
Look, I wrote a book and it is amazing! I am trying to make money with it as well as help and encourage people who read it. It is the best book ever!
Why do I need to qualify my own book?
I do think it is the best book ever. I wrote it and love it. It is something I made and it talks about my faith and my journey through life with a positive outcome. It is the best book ever. If you read it, you will feel that!
If everyone spends life comparing ourselves to others who we think are better, we will never rise above. No, not better than others, but shine in our own way to our own audience. How can those who want to read my work, if my shine is so dull it does not reflect light at all, if I refuse to talk about it?
So, I'm gonna let my light shine.
Jesus Christ taught, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." [Matthew 5:16] Thanks for that record Matthew. This little light of mine is here to shine. By its shine people will know that God has been my Helper in the hard times and my Joy in the good times--seeking, I hope, to praise and honor Him by noticing the Helper and Joy in their lives.
Look, I wrote a book. It's called Moroni Saw Me. Read it. It is amazing!
Look, I wrote a book and it is amazing. I am trying to make money with it as well as help and encourage people who read it. It is the best book ever.
Why do I need to qualify my own book? I do think it is the best book ever. I wrote it and love it. It is something I made and it talks about my faith and my journey through life with a positive outcome. It is the best book ever. If you read it, you will feel that!
If everyone spends life comparing ourselves to others who we think are better, we will never rise. No, not better than others, but shine in our own way to our own audience. How can those who want to read my work read it if my shine is so dull it does not reflect light at all because I refuse to talk about it? So, I gonna let my light shine.
Following is an excerpt from Moroni Saw Me. The days were no always bright in my life. God's hand in my making was always evident from the things I learned or thought I learned.
DAIRY QUEEN HEALS WOUNDS. During Mom’s hospitalization for some illness related to her heart (leaving us to the care of the husband) my stepfather showed his disdain for my personality. I gather my stepfather felt stress with the pressure of taking care of us while Mom recovered in the hospital. In a whirlwind of emotion, he paraded through our rental home going on about some item with which someone had tampered.
Trying to show the seriousness of my not having tampered with that item, I said, "I didn't do it, and you could give me a lie detector test."
It was clever to say, and an earnest expression of my innocence. He, however, had listened to my arrogant voice and condescending behavior for months I suppose—reaching his threshold for tolerance. Though I intended no condescension (at least that time) my stepdad understood it differently.
Charging into my room with a thick leather belt, he yelled, “You think you so smart? …always got something smart to say! Well, I’m tired of it!”
The man commenced beating me with the belt for old and new. Honestly, I thought he was mad, as in crazy, to attack me that way because he had never put his hands on me before that day to whup! He grabbed me once while he and Mom were dating, but he whupped me this time. I felt traumatized because it was my understanding that he did not have the right to whup me.
Crying, I tried to explain to him that I was not trying to be disrespectful. He did not want to hear it, and my kid-brain felt confused. My adult brain understands his frustration as I think back on the incident. Having children of my own, I understand wanting to discipline for old and new. I also understand that doing so is wrong. I am also my kids’ biological father who has been there from birth. He was not that to me.
The next day he bribed my brother and me with Dairy Queen food. Mom came home that day, which is why he wanted to butter us up. I remember telling my brother Reggie that it did not matter that he beat me because of that treat. It was a temporary balm to my wounded ego and body, but I did not in truth forgive or forget at that time.