Having a Latte with Lorraine Hansberry

If I could sit down and have a latte with anyone in the world that has ever lived, I would love to sit down with Lorraine Hansberry. I have admired and respected and aspired to walk the walk of Lorraine Hansberry. I choose her because you don’t hear much about her anymore, if we ever did. I choose her because, like Angela Davis, she had some really good things to say, had a beautiful mind, but unlike Angela, was taken from us too soon, at the age of 34 to cancer. This is why, if I could I would set up shop right next to her and close my mouth and open my ears.
Her book, To Be Young, Gifted and Black, really spoke to me as a teenager. Before I even knew what it meant to be “black”, that I was truly gifted, and had the energy and fearless perseverance of youth, I still was able to grasp what was to be learned from her writings. She understood me, before I understood me, and still understands me in ways that I don’t have her eloquence to articulate. Peep this quote:

“I think , then, that Negroes must concern themselves with every single means of struggle: legal, illegal, passive, active, violent and non-violent. That they must harass, debate, petition, give money to court struggles, sit-in, lie-down, strike, boycott, sing hymns, pray on step and shoot from their windows when the racists come cruising through their communities. The acceptance of our present condition is the only form of extremism which discredits us before our children.” Taken from The Work of Democracy: Ralph Bunche, Kenneth B. Clark, Lorraine Hansberry, and the Cultural Politics of Race

This quote was in response to someone asking her how she felt about MLK and his non-violent protests. I picked it because a lot of what she says is still relevant and it points out how we’ve gotten away from the passion of dealing with the struggle. I mean, when we see Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson and hear about the things we do, we kind of brush it off as if what they continue doesn’t matter. I am guilty of this. But then I take a step back, I look at where they came from, and I see what is going on now and I feel the frustration of never being able to do anything for my people and it makes me pause. I blog much, I complain much, I trip over my own soapbox, and still actions are absent from all of my meanings.

Lorraine Hansberry lived the life she wrote in her words. As in she believed in her opinions and wrote a thousand times over, not complaints, but solutions and encouragements. Not every one of us can go out and do the things Al Sharpton does, nor do we really desire to, but there is an entire subsect of people, out there everyday contributing to OUR struggle, and we never hear about them. We never hear d about what Jonnie Cochran did for civil rights. We never hear about what S. Epatha Merkerson does to support initiatives to help our kids. But that doesn’t mean things aren’t happening. And it doesn’t mean that we can get away with doing nothing.
Lorraine Hansberry wrote in TBYGB that we must write, write about our people, about our struggle, because all of the stories haven’t been told, and they need to be heard. So here I am writing my little heart out…

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