two more random train encounters19 Mar 2017
in the last month, i’ve had three random, really positive encounters on the train. one of them i’ve already written about and the other two happened in the last two weeks.
when i was getting off the train i ran into a friend/colleague, benji. another person getting off the train also knew benji. on the way up the stairs, i walked over and asked how they knew benji. that lead to a whole conversation about the types of work that we do. several minutes into our walk, we realized we were headed in the same direction to get home and introduced ourselves (let’s call them ‘b’). we ended standing in front of b’s apartment building for ten minutes just talking about how fucked up prisons and supremacy are and then exchanged contact info and went our separate ways. what a great moment.
i was reading malcolm x’s autobiography (finally) on the train and a woman across from me asked if i was reading it for school. i told her i’ve graduated and that i was just reading it because it had been important in my friend gibrán’s life. then she led us into this whole conversation about how impactful read the book was on her.
the point that landed with me the strongest was how much better of an example malcolm was than martin for young black men. she says the the story of martin is so flattened that young people (or anyone really) don’t see any realistic pathway to become like him. he is just a giver of speeches, leader of marches, and important historical figure. he’s just too big to be attainable.
but malcolm’s story is one that young black men can relate to. he makes mistakes. he changes his mind. he gets lucky sometimes and other times he doesn’t. he’s human and she thought that that’s much more important in a role model.
such a good conversation!
to be honest, i’m not totally sure if writing this will ever amount to anything more than this post (and others like it). i guess i just want to remember that it’s possible to have good, random experiences with people in the world. when the media and dominant narratives have us so scared, i think it matters to have real life evidence that things can (and actually are already in many places) different.
ps - all of this sounds similar to james martin’s thinking about what it means to be “holy” and the problems of deifying saints.
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