If I view Baton Rouge through my own lens I see education. When we do “schooling”, the idea is to bring out and bring forth something.
And Baton Rouge through my glasses is not always bringing forth the right emotions or lessons in me. Learning to hope using the lens I’ve been given is no easy or enjoyable task.
If I peer into the frames of education’s walls I see: Baton Rouge Community College, FORTIS, Camelot, Remington, Delta, Southern University, Grambling University and University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Students are Colonels at Nicholls State, Lions at Southeastern, and War-hawks at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
Louisiana is a slew of thought sloping high on plateaus of discussion, dialogue, knowledge and experience.
Racial bias or racial awareness taught me previously that I needed to use my lens to place one college, institution, or “thought-bucket” higher than the other.
They said: “Prize the more African-American leaning seats over the predominately white ones. You’re black and verily the black schools need all your energy.
But I cannot do that. You’d be shocked to know that I have no favorites. My lens is mixed up. For black people were not the only professors and counselors that propelled an educated, yet biased me, past the tired idea that the world turns on how predictable I am within the group.
If a lens is a transparent reflection, I must face the fact that life that there were just as many black, white, and red influences that shaped the new lens with which I stare at Baton Rouge each day.
The same lens shows me running like Sonic the Hedgehog away from news organizations that tell me to be “proud of Baton Rouge” without understand the source of my pride. I should be ever so sentimental while I see my black people killing other black people and threatening me with aggression because I willing choose education over the popular “thing of the day” that swirls around in the vast hurricane of trending topics.
What are our learning places bring forth? Are we bringing forth substance abusers who believe that the myth of Kanye West is the way to freedom? I see rap through a lens of negation. Surely, rap can be a positive art form. But I always see it fanning the flame of anger through my black brothers and sisters. This anger drives them to shoot and kill each other as well as the next person that says that they might be out of line.
I cannot let my lens believe that a single group is the enemy of me just because one man decides to mock and vandalize American society.
If a lens is your reflection, it takes a persistent and altogether different person and force of nature to convince you that your lens is so scratched up by the outside turbulence that you need new glasses.
I should be proud of our city although I waited until after graduation to see Governor John Bel Edwards celebrate fixing the road fixed near Thomas H. Harris Hall, the place responsible for the English coursework that eventually got me a Bachelor’s.
Or should not I look deeper? My lens is a lens that finds me navigating life with Cerebral Palsy. I looked deep enough to find that a library was more than just stacks of books in an air-conditioned room waiting for someone to take them home.
I learned that a school is not just a building with classrooms of people that cheer for teams, games, matches, and letterman patches. Schools are ideas. And it humanity’s role to decide what looking glass matters the most. Are we just being program to use the clout of the network?
I’ve learned that the path toward a brighter, more vibrant and dynamic lens is examining one’s own energy.
My cousin said the other day: I don’t need your energy.
My energy has not always been filtered through a lens of shared responsibility. My energy before the journey of higher learning was selfishness, shame, and anger.
I believe that through the lens of my own disability, people owed me their sacrifices. I was so sheltered in this former life that I was scared to crack the protective coating of my lens and make a new one with which to see the world.
She doesn’t need my energy. What energy does she mean?
Is it my energy to listen to her concerns, the problem? Or perhaps it’s the energy to forgive her when I see falsehood and sabotage staring me in the face.
I needed someone else’s energy to call “foul” on my own stupid choices. I needed a professor who had the energy to fail me until I could learn the proper value of a well-researched argument.
I need the energy of tireless women who told me every hour in their presence that the prescription in my lens was counterfeit.
If I look at the energy of Audre’ Lorde, she’d say:
Harold, your silence will kill you. I can no longer sit quietly and stare with a foggy lens at anyone who willfully chooses to complain about things that are changeable.
With a sober mind, I can’t say that “my energy” is always the right kind.
But as a story-teller and observer, I must take heart there will always be idiots that want “my energy” when agreement is easy.
And while schools have a direct effect on the power of confused people to do great small things, the lens through which trauma shines is a garbled, anxious mess of hurting people that co-op the peace of others because they are alone, unloved, and just too freaking afraid.