I am in the lounge of the Kellogg Center on the campus of Tuskegee University in Tuskegee Institute, Alabama. At the bar waiting for my daughter and son who chose to attend the step show, I am surrounded by my new family. Homecoming evening. The football game was earlier today. Tuskegee won though I doubt if anyone here could tell me the score. Not due to a consumption of adult beverage but because the football game is simply the tapestry on which this beautiful portrait of life has been created. The crowd here is mostly alumni and others of that age. All floating from the lounge to the dance room to the lobby and all areas in-between is my new family complete with all assortments of family personalities and lessons to be learned. Some of which I, as the self proclaimed oracle, will share.
I take time from my quiet place to watch a brother hard at work. Where else could he approach a table of four beautiful black sisters filled with the comfort and confidence that comes not from the ‘sprite’ he was drinking but from the comfort that comes from the knowledge that he will be accepted by all four at different levels but he knows without a doubt that he will be accepted.
There is this thing that black people have that can not be duplicated, faked, cloned, clearly explained, or ignored. No, we do not know each other but, we know of each other. Between us tonight is shared love, suspicion, a caring for each other, true joy and sincere love. We are who we are at gatherings such as this with no pretense, well, maybe a little, but mostly we are who we are and we love each other for it. I wonder often what it is that keeps us from our potential. I sometimes believe it is our logic.
We sometimes allow our logic and skepticism to intrude where, I would venture to say, unlike other races, our emotion is truly who we are. We have so been conditioned to think , to reason through our emotion that how we feel, what we feel is seen as a weakness, something to be protected. Yet, we are such a strong people, both male and female, that nothing truly harms us to the point where we can not recover. I drink in the nectar of love on a day like today, and breathe in the strong essence of a night like tonight at Tuskegee University and dare the world to prove me incorrect at my assessment, logic not withstanding. As surely as a man’s work turns into true conversation, especially among friends, so are the true aspects of our hearts.
Crowds of strangers have been transformed to friends and their size never dissipates. They grow ever larger even if not seen out side our self contained world, which for the moment is such a beautiful world. I love and tonight I know that I am loved in return unconditionally. There is no truer love than this. This night at Tuskegee is but a capsule of our potential. I wonder of late why is it that we have been unable to achieve the success of a group such as the ‘Tea Party.’ Why have we not been able to galvanize into a singular force and spirit to be recognized and courted by the society that would pale (no pun intended) if not for our existence. Why not us? Perhaps the answer is because we have no need or, better yet, our reality, calling and purpose lies elsewhere.
Perhaps we are as we need to be. Perhaps all that is there for us to do is embrace where and who we are and find a way to make it a success rather than trying to mold who we are to become some factor missing in the formula of what some would hope us to become. Perhaps all that is there for us to do is embrace it. Perhaps what is needed for Tavis [Smiley] and Tom [Joyner] is to say it is okay. It is okay for you to disagree, publicly and privately; at the very least because you are both loved and have such a symmetry that that love, strength and purpose intensifies when you are together.
The sweetest music on earth is composed of the sound of a black woman laughing with a black man
Gallantry is here in all its grandmotherly taught glory, even as we laugh at and with each other
Sisters and brothers sharing who know what over on the side, just out of earshot. Serious at times, funny at others, all so very intimate
Music feels different in the South
I hate for this night to end. I will never lose this feeling given me this tonight. I wish I could place it in a bottle to use at my discretion. I guess my heart will have to serve as that vessel. I will take from this very special night a unique set of memories not the least of which will be remembering my way back next year, and back to this feeling anytime I desire. Another lesson learned.
Dale S. Johnson is an accomplished author of over 3,000 lyrical compositions, essays, poems and short stories as well as published interviews with the then Senator Barack Obama and Russ Feingold. One of his pieces, ‘The Perfect Wife’ was featured on the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show, and is included in the Tavis Smiley book, Keeping the Faith, which was awarded the NAACP Image Award for inspirational writing. He has spoken on the importance of developing effective relationships from both a personal and professional basis at major universities in Michigan, Texas, Washington, DC and Indiana. Dale received his Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University and has completed post graduate work at Purdue and the Chicago Kent School of Law.