29 Nov ON WATERMELON
I met Daniel Handler, also known as Lemony Snickett, only once – at a conference – at the height of his popularity having written his “…Unfortunate Events” series. He was then – overblown!
I’ve known Jackie Woodson for quite some time. I know of her passion to write, to get published, to keep the pace of genius. I know of her fight, her plight for human rights – her vision of a better future for all.
I was not at the National Book Award Ceremony to hear firsthand Mr. Handler’s ‘joke’ – “Jackie’s allergic to watermelon…”.
But the remark bothered me. It bothers me. Racism has always been and it is still here – widespread – and it hurts – it hurts a white boy dreaming, too.
My first book, DON’T YOU TURN BACK (Knopf) a collection of poetry by Langston Hughes, published shortly after his death appeared in l969 with brilliant woodcuts by Ann Grifalconi who later received a Caldecott Honor Book Award.
I couldn’t wait to share the book with my mother. I excitedly brought the book to her from my apartment in New York to her home in New Jersey. I was so proud. My first book! A book to share with mother.She looked at the cover, handed the book back to me and said, “I can’t have this in my house. My friends will think my son is a nigger lover.”
My heart sank.White boy’s dream crushed.
Fifty-four years later my brother returns to the United States after living in Mexico for twelve years with his wife, a Brazilian, to live in Florida.
Someone makes the statement they would be embarassed to see them together – especially at social functions because ‘she looks colored’.
1969! 20l4! Fifty-five years later.
Brown girl dreaming.
White boy dreaming.
Will it ever end?
Perhaps — onto tomorrows.