In case you missed last week's essay, I've started a new challenge. Following my previous challenge of sharing a lesson a day for 31 days in video form, I started a new challenge; 75Hard! The challenge calls for two daily workouts, of which one must be outside. Given how at my current weight I can't run without shattering my knees and back, I have taken to going on very long walks. And you know what happens on walks. A lot of thinking.
On Friday morning, following an exhibit opening at the Zeitz MOCAA, I had the history of our nation top of mind. The exhibits focused on telling the stories of Africans through their own words and imagery instead of the colonial lens. After the curators of the exhibit spoke on what it took to gather the collection and thanked the Zeitz and its supporters, Ambassador Barbara Masekela took the stage and asked a question which spoke to many of my unarticulated thoughts; where are the children?
It is this question that came back to me during my walk. As the 6:30 AM windchill bit at my face and I recalled how a mere 30 years ago I would have been arrested for simply walking through town while Black, I wondered, "Do the children know?" Many of the liberties that we now get to take for granted — access to education, property ownership, and the right to vote — were so recently won. Won, not awarded. And do the children know this? Should they know this? What happens if they do not know this?
All too often, the stories we are told of our people are those recorded from a colonial lens. It is infuriating; the story of Blackness is not singularly one of oppression and trauma. We are a people of art, science, community and joy! But, do the children know that? We need to tell our stories, not only those of struggle but of how we have always been a people of advancement and communal dignity. This is why Mme Barbara posed that question. The people who needed to be in that room most, the people whose personhood is still being defined, were nowhere to be seen.
It is our duty to not only enjoy these newfound and hard-won liberties, but we must also teach and expand upon them. Lest we regress. These freedoms were gifts, so we do not owe any actual debts, but as with any freedoms and rights, there are responsibilities. Our responsibility is to ensure that the generations that follow have a better world to inherit. We are all beneficiaries of these liberties, and thus, we are all duty-bound to their custodians.
Justice Albie Sachs called me an intelligent young man and I share a birthday with Ambassador Barbara Masekela, please address me appropriately.