This is a question that a good friend of mine is probing through a series of community activities sponsored by ASU. This idea, that as a people we can lose sight of what really makes us human makes me think of Booker Wright.
He was surrounded by people who enjoyed him. He was fun-loving, humorous, kind, thoughtful, and humiliated almost every day. The very people who believed they had friendship with him failed to actually take in his humanity. They were living in a societal structure that let them believe that he was probably content with his station in life. Why would an illiterate black man in the mid-1960s want anything more than to wait on tables and deliver a steak and a song night after night?
What I've learned, from sharing meals and memories with these very people, is that they did truly love him. That cannot be denied. Yes, they failed to see him, but they didn't know it at the time. This has been one of the biggest lessons for me in all of this. I don't want to be so busy in my daily life that I fail to see those in need or in heartache around me. There will always be politics, but each individual that I come across in my daily life is unique and temporary. I have to choose to celebrate people even if we're not on the same side of the aisle. Booker Wright taught me that.