Ok, so there are only twenty three days left til lift off. I've been in Montclair New Jersey, the past week, hanging out with my dad. My mom is in Germany, visiting my sister, so i came down to be with my dad. We've had some great talks over the last few days. One of our conversations today was about Africa. I give my parents tremendous props for being able to let me go as easily as they have. It must be tough to let your children go somewhere like "Africa" where the AIDS/HIV pandemic is killing people by the tens-of-thousands everyday.
So, my father and I were talking and then I was reminded of the very first time I had ever heard about Africa and its AIDS/HIV dilemma. (Back then, it was just a dilemma.) It was 1986, twenty years ago, I was a sixth grader at West Side Elementary school. Now, that name may be a little misleading, cause no way were we near any type of city projects with the Sharks and the Jets fighting it out back from the school. We were, and probably still are, as ethnic as Wonderbread can get. Anyways, for my sixth grade theater production, Mrs. Mcnulty decided that we all should replicate the We are the World video. For those of you who remember, I am totally serious. Elton and his dyed hair and shades, Diana Ross in all her diva glory and we can't forget the great Stevie Wonder, rocking his head back and forth with his signature shades (Sorry Bono, he beatcha to it). Well, I always had a pretty high voice back in the day, pre-puberty days, but I was scared to the bone when it came to performing in front of people. Usually this was my downfall when it came to getting major roles in in any school plays, something I was more than fine with. Well, as Mrs. Mcnulty gave out parts, I got the only part that fit a 12-13 year old asian boy...Lionel Richie. No, I didn't wear a wig of jerry curls or any other sort of thing that would hide my asianness and transform me into the 1984 Grammy winner.
It's a fun memory, but I guess what struck me was how little I knew or cared to know about Africa and AIDS. It's taken twenty years to turn my head into that general direction and stare. Which leads me to another thought, you know, staring is a funny thing. I used to stare at a lot of things when I was a kid. The fires from the bunsen burners in chemistry class, fish gliding across just below the surface of the lake at Heckscher Park, and learning the technique of the stare when it came to the art flirting. When you stare at something, you taken all the details. It's because we're obsessed with this object of our attention at that moment. My prayer is that I don't just get a good glance and a sigh. I never want to stop staring and I hope this leads me to more action and a greater understanding of justice for all.
Thanks for reading and until next time, I leave you with the prophectic words of Lionel Richie
Say you, say me; say it for always
Thats the way it should be
Say you, say me; say it together
I had a dream I had an awesome dream
People in the park playing games in the dark
And what they played was a masquerade
And from behind of walls of doubt a voice was crying out
Say you, say me... (chorus)
As we go down life's lonesome highway
Seems the hardest thing to do is to find a friend or two
A helping hand - some one who understands
That when you feel you've lost your way
You've got some one there to say Ill show you
Say you, say me...(chorus)
So you think you know the answers - oh no
cause the whole world has got you dancing
Thats right - I'm telling you
Its time to start believing - oh yes
Believing who you are: you are a shining star
Say you, say me...(chorus)
Say it together... naturally.