Carl W. Kenney II is an award winning columnist and novelist. He is committed to engaging readers into a meaningful discussion related to matters that impact faith and society. He grapples with pondering the impact faith has on public space while seeking to understand how public space both hinders and enhances the walk of faith.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Memories like a raisin in the sun
I’ve been down this street before.
That’s what came to mind after taking a long stroll
through the neighborhood I called home before moving to Durham, NC to attend
graduate school at Duke University.The
journey down memory lane played like rewind.
Not much has changed.
The feeling of despair that ran me away has settled in
like the seconds before a heart attack.There’s a mood that strips one of their dreams and reminds them to stay
in an assigned place.That ache I felt
before leaving came back. It shocked me.The tears came after I turned right on Worley.Each step stirred a memory of being broken by
the covert racism in Columbia, MO.
Why did they force us to walk to West Jr. High School?
I moaned as flashbacks of cold days
walking to school came to mind. Why? Why no bus for us?
That question stirred a deeper frustration related to
the gaps that fed inferiority.The tears
poured faster and deeper as the truth emerged to take me back.
I never felt good enough.I never felt equal to my white peers. I
never, I never – the list inflated until I couldn’t take anymore.I stopped walking, closed my eyes, inhaled,
exhaled, and took another step.
What is it about Columbia that robs black people of
Langston Hughes asked a similar question. “What
happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?” Is
anyone considering the significance of withering dreams?
The Mayor’s Task Force on Community Violence has begun
the arduous task of tackling crime in Columbia.The 13 members have been split into groups - one to talk to people
affected by violence; another to analyze police reports and court files; one to
talk with nonprofits and social service agencies to measure what they are doing
about crime; and the fourth to examine news site and social media accounts for
information surrounding previous violent crimes.
The process of reducing crime begins with gauging what
is being done. It’s an important step
that must be taken along the way.Measuring the response of those empowered to prevent, protect and report
crime is essential.Those commissioned
to serve must be held accountable when appropriate, and celebrated when successful.
But, what about those dreams rotting in the sun?
What are the causes of crime?Are those reasons reflective of broader
societal ills, or are there cultural impediments indigenous to Columbia? If so,
are we willing to go deeper than the traditional blame game to form strategies
to shift that feeling that forced my feet to stop moving after considering the
pain in the streets?
Some will say crime in Columbia is the result of an
antagonistic police department.Others
will condemn social agencies, churches and other nonprofits. A large group will
point a disparaging finger at parents.There’s a measure of truth in each position, but what about the wilting
It took my leaving Columbia to discern that woeful
sensation that kept me walking slower than my potential.Departing freed me from the clutch of
internalized inferiority.The deficiency
of black owned and operated businesses, the absence of a who’s who list of
blacks from Columbia recognized nationally, and a weak history of blacks
elected to serve on the city council, reflect a deep void that withers
Dreams can’t thrive when power isn’t shared. Hope
can’t be found when the capacity for more has no role models to lead the
way.Life can’t be found when you are
limited to the welfares on your side of the street.
I’m back home after being away for 27 years.Columbia has grown since I left, but not much
has changed on the blocks that made raisins out of dreams.