a memoir with Michael Shnayerson
like kanye used his influence to bring up the then-unsung common, harry belafonte makes use of his every opportunity to ensure that we all remember paul robeson. a fascinating individual who has lived about 8 lives (sorry, cats), he serves as continued inspiration for those of us who occupy the spaces in between. he’s obviously affected by the relationships that have shaped his understanding of the world, but he hasn’t let them decide his fate. it’s all that we could ever hope for.
“I remember the view, and the walkway that sloped down from where we were. My father got to talking to someone as I waited for him to guide me down. As he kept talking, he seemed to forget that he’d been holding the handlebar to keep the tricycle from rolling. He started gesturing with both hands to his friend. Suddenly his tricycle started rolling downhill. I felt the whoosh of exhilaration in my stomach. Perhaps in those first seconds I could have stopped, but the ride was too much fun. Then I heard my father scream my name at the top of his voice. When I looked back, I thought I was watching the giant from ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ chase after me. I pedaled as fast as I could to escape him. Not fast enough. At the bottom of the hill, he caught me and yanked me off the tricycle. My feet were still pedaling in the air. Then he dragged me over to some bushes, broke off a thin branch, and proceeded to beat me with it.
Again and again he beat me, until I bled through my shirt and pants. Then he stopped. The blood seemed to shock him back to his senses.
‘You must never tell your mother what happened,’ he told me hoarsely. ‘Say some boys tried to steal your bike, and they they beat you up…and I saved you.’
On the way home we passed a little corner store, the kind that used to sell candy and stationary and cigars. In the window was a white model sailboat, with beautiful white trim. I had always admired that boat. Only weeks before, I’d asked to have it for Christmas. When we got to that window, my father said into my ear, ‘If you don’t tell your mother, I’ll buy you that boat.’” (21-2)
he never did get that boat, but then again..
“Perhaps, in the end, where your anger comes from is less important than what you do with it.” (11)
and ‘getting mad ain’t the same thing as getting involved.’
you know i had to get that shad reference in. bigups to our best canada reads defender.