Hall-of-Fame sports broadcaster Red Barber once said, “There is no one like you, so don’t water your wine.”
The quote is one of over 150 that I have written on index cards and posted on a wall of my room. Friends who have seen my room, have looked in surprise and awe at my wall of such a large collection of quips.
In so many ways, my wall says so much about me, without really saying anything at all.
What my wall tells visitors, or anyone, is that I am my own man, never to conform to what identifies a particular race, culture or ethnicity. I did things my way in the 17 years before I came to FAMU and have continued to do my own thing in my almost four years here.
Before heading home one day, I visited The Famuan office to ask an editor what exactly he was looking for in a story he suggested I write. Before I could ask my question and after he asked me whether or not I was attending Dick Gregory’s presentation that night he chimed, “If anyone needs black empowerment, it’s you.”
The incident reminded me how far black America needs to go in accepting individuals. It is no secret the media’s images of black Americana have permeated into the minds of so many to define what exactly is black and what is not.
To quote Cornel West in his recent campus visit, “Imitation is suicide.” Mimicking the images portrayed on television, in music or of anyone else is leaving America, as a whole, devoid of individuals.
So many things are starting to be associated with one culture, one ethnicity, one race.
I’ve gone to school and befriended people from almost every background imaginable, and the one indelible mark all my friends have is a lack of ignorance. Ignorance is what keeps people from understanding and accepting that which they do not know.
Because no two people are the same, how could anyone honestly consider what they do to be a representation of their race, culture or ethnicity. Lack of self-love is not what spawns interracial dating. Lack of self-love is perpetuated through the ignorance of a former friend of mine when she told me she would never marry someone as dark as myself because she wanted to see her children in the dark.
It would be wrong to assail just two of our nearly 12,000 students, which is why they are not mentioned by name.
It would be even worse for students, and America as a whole, to forget who they are.
Famed children’s author Dr. Seuss once said, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
That too is a quote on my wall.
Will Brown is a senior newspaper journalism student from Rockledge. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.