Awakening

Over the last few years I have felt disconnected from the black community, not coming from them but me. It wasn’t on purpose, mind you. I wasn’t as young people call it these days “cooning;” that means Uncle Tom for you folks that aren’t up on street slang.

I railed against everything that affects us, against racism in all its forms, became outraged at police officers killing us and yet I always felt something missing. Maybe that was why I bristled at being told sometimes that I wasn’t black enough, not because I wasn’t but because something was off. Trust me, I’ve questioned myself. Was it because I dated outside my race? Was it because I have too many white friends? Do I act uppity? Why do I feel like this? I was saying it loud, but was I really proud?

Then on this day, something that happened to me a few hours before I wrote this gave me an answer. I was attending a meeting of the Poor People’s Campaign and we were discussing the second phase, which is centered on Voter Mobilization. Part of that is getting out and talking to and involving people in the neighborhood. The meeting took place in the Bruce Bolling building which is located in Dudley Square in Roxbury.

I hadn’t been to Dudley in quite a while, I was always too busy. I have a few friends that live there and most of our vendors have lived there at one point or another and yet it was a place where I hardly ever went. We started our walk down Washington Street and it was a little emotional for our chairperson as she had grown up in this neighborhood. We stopped at the Black Market which is a place where people of color rent space to sell everything from jewelry, to clothing, to soaps. We then made our way further up Washington Street where the former Orchard Park projects used to be and finally ended up at the Marcus Garvey building, which has many a stable of recovery for many, many years.

I was having my own emotional awakening during our little walk as I began to realize what was wrong with me. I found out what I was missing; being a part of the community. I’ve always stressed since I’ve been a homeless activist that you can’t properly represent the people your fighting for without being part or really getting to know the community and its people. I couldn’t believe I wasn’t taking my own words to heart when it came to my race. I got my soul back today, I don’t intend on losing it again.

James Shearer

James Shearer is a writer and co-founder of Spare Change News.

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