This I Believe

Stephen - Afton, VA, Virginia
Entered on February 26, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

 Stephen H

Narrative Story

Mrs. Donna St.Clair

Am I a Man

“ Am I a man”, those were the proud words that W.E.B. Dubois stated in his book “The Souls of Black Folks”. To some, those words just went in one ear and out the other,    but for me the words sunk deep inside my heart and mind. I believe that in society, I’m looked at and I have to look at things from two different perspectives:  as a man and a black man.

During the days of grade school, I distinctly remember myself asking another classmate to play  Power Rangers along with him and a few more students and he said no. This came as a shocker, someone didn’t want to play a game with me. Well  out of my curiosity I asked him why, and he said “ Its because your black”.  At such a young age, I had never heard of such a thing. I felt that I was just like the rest of the kids, I knew my skin was darker but I also knew that this was America “Land of the free and home of the brave”, despite its grueling past.

I moved past the grade school incident and continued with my life. Although I had moved on from the grade school incident, it seemed that I happened to encounter more of these incidents. Most actions and aspects of me were looked upon due to my skin color, and even I was forced to look at it too. Small events happened that imposed the different perspectives; being followed through a store, not cause I had stolen anything or even had intentions of it but maybe because I was black. Or even not getting chose for a job, but every time I went to the store, a new “individual” was working there.

I have tried to look at the situations from a man’s perspective but the evidence doesn’t pan out the correct response. From the other perspective that I’m forced to look at holds some answers, but not all of them I want. In Langston Hughes’ poem “I Too” he touches on the subject. He opens by saying “I too sing America I’m the darker brother”. He goes on explaining what is required of the boy by his masters, but later proclaims that “they will see how beautiful I’m and be ashamed, I too am America”.

I want people see the beauty of my skin color but also see the intellectual man that is there.  I want them to realize that I’m no different from them and that I too am America.  I do not want to forget my identity or my past because James Baldwin said “Know from whence you came to get where you are headed”. God made me and I can’t change that,  but I don’t want my skin color to be imposed as an issue or subject to stereotype.

 Things are not perfect but we have come a long way. In the Declaration of Independence it states “that all men are created equal,” so I too am America, and I am black but I am a man just like every one else in God’s great Earth.