Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Finally Getting Excited

I've written several posts about how challenging the June Greenwood trip was for me and how I feel a sense of dread when I think about the one that's coming up.  For the latter half of July I spent at least a few minutes each day trying to figure out how to tell the producer that I didn't think I needed to go on a second trip.  Then one day, with no warning, the production manager called to tell me that she was ready to purchase my ticket and that she just needed to confirm that I was traveling to and from Phoenix.

For the last couple of weeks I've been communicating (okay, complaining) about how I don't want to go back Greenwood to shoot more scenes.  So, much so that the producer expressed a concern that I may not get on the plane at all.  I don't want to be difficult and I don't want to be a problem for anyone so I vowed to him that, no matter what, I would get on the plane.  This was before all the craziness with my family unfolded over the weekend, two members of which still aren't speaking to me.  My father and I actually had the biggest fight on Saturday that we've had in 17 years.  This is hard, really hard.  

Many days the only thing keeping me from cancelling my plane ticket and refunding the cost of it to the filmmakers is that little promise I made to the producer.

But today, oh, today something wonderful happened.  It's like the clouds parted and I could once again feel the sun warming my skin.  I am starting to get excited.  I'm remembering why I started this in the first place, remembering some of the wonderful people I've met along the way, and remembering how much laughter I shared with our fun-loving, yet hardworking crew.  

Raymond, the director, asked me to write a piece about why I started this journey in the first place.  The last few days I've been remembering and trying to articulate the spark, the hope, and the connection I felt to Booker Wright four years ago when I first set out to find him.  Having a man like Booker Wright in my lineage is simply amazing.  It brings me awe to think about it.  But having a man like Booker Wright in history is equally amazing.  

People like him are rare and beautiful.  He had so much to lose and so little to gain when he told the NBC news crew how he really felt about his "relationships" with his white customers.  What he lost was realized immediately.  He was beaten so badly that he had to be hospitalized.  He also lost his job.  Some people say that he left his job because his customers refused to have him wait on them anymore.  Either way, his employment at Lusco's ended, after more than 20 years, because of his appearance in Frank De Felitta's film.  

What would be gained by being in the film was not fully realized within Booker's lifetime.  His voice was one of the countless courageous voices that helped to bring down an establishment of violence, fear, humiliation, and intimidation.  One by one, act by act, moment by moment black men and women put themselves at risk to collectively change the world.  

Thank you Booker Wright.  Thank you that I got to go to exceptional schools.  Thank you that it's illegal to discriminate against me because of the color of my skin.  Thank you that my two sons are growing up in a world that's full of hope and opportunity for them.

I look forward to returning to Greenwood to continue uncovering your story.  I am going to try, really, really, really hard to let you be human on this trip.  You deserve to be a man with flaws, secrets, and mistakes.  I know that on the last trip I fell apart at the slightest idea that you were less than perfect.  I'll try to bring more balance with me this time.  If you were perfect, then no one could imitate you.  Why would I speak out and help others or exercise boldness in my own life if those types of acts are only reserved for the perfect.

Change is not made by perfect people.  The world moves, grows, and is lead by those who, in spite of their imperfections, rise to the occasion anyway.


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