Thank you, Ta-Nehisi Coates. Thank you for writing about topics that I could not read anywhere else, and for making me feel something deeply. I am talking about your last book, “The Water Dancer”. I have not finished it yet, and I already need to write about it. Probably because my wife is tired of hearing me rumbling about it and how every twist is making me fall off my chair with my mouth wide open! I am not writing a review of your book. Many must have already given their own opinion. I am thanking you for exploring slavery in America through a new angle.
A perspective going way beyond the too often told stories. The simple stories that have only a few heroes, the stories where situations are black or white. I did not know it before reading your book. But every movie or book I read on the topic of slavery lacked the emotional connection. Those vivid images that jump at you that throw you into a different universe. Of course, I, like most people, have felt pain when characters are whipped. That scene in 12 years a slave was awful. But nowhere as horrific as what I felt when your characters share their stories. You do not even have to describe scenes gruesomely. You just need to show us how things went down in that time. I am no historian. I do not know what happened. I know that what you are describing makes so much sense. And because it makes so much sense and connects to the history of all people of Black decent outside of Africa, I feel pain and sadness. Feelings I rarely experience. And for that, I thank you.
Let’s shift gear now. What does this have to do with feeling like the majority? I wonder if when you are the majority, most stories speak to you in that profound way. You feel connected, a sense of belonging 365 days a year. A TV show reminds you of the Mayflower and when your ancestors came to the US. Movies tell you that whites are the saviors. School emphasizes your great moments in history, and downplay if not omit, the moments your ancestors screwed up.
At this point, some of you may think that I am exaggerating this point. All I can say is to express it from my point of view. Here is what an isolated book amid all mainstream Netflix is making me feel: It is making me hope to be a brave field agent for the underground railroad. It is inspiring me to support my community, to be organized, and to dream BIG. Now I imagine if I had this type of positive reinforcement all my life. Well, I’ll never know what it would have meant. All I know is that I am pumped up now, and like Hiram in “the water dancer”, who discovered his calling later in life, I hope to have found my calling too.