Photo: Ursa Minor had a really, really rough go with his allergies this week. I came home from teaching my class to find my child coughing and miserable, the medicine completely failing him. Neither of us slept. I put Major on the bus for school and kept Minor home. It took an eternity to get him calm and comfortable. Sleep didn’t come until around 11am thanks to a YouTube 24/7 sleep music channel and sheer exhaustion. Thanks for rolling with me and my skipped post on Wednesday. When air becomes a suddenly precious commodity, a mother can’t concentrate on much else.
It’s been fun watching people make a big deal of dramatically rolling their eyes about tomorrow’s big royal wedding. Believe me, I’m no royalist (loyalist? lol). I write it all the time: I live on a Minute Man’s land, I’m a U.S. History Teacher. I used to actively flout our Revolutionary War win to the British teachers who used to visit my charter school each year (and pop in right about the time I was deep in my Colonial America unit). I tried my best not to be all up in William’s wedding because, well, meh. Rich white men marrying rich white women isn’t something I get out of bed for.
But I’m getting up tomorrow and I’m baking cinnamon rolls because tomorrow is a whole different thing. Tomorrow is history. But for all the macro reasons why it’s history, for me, I’m getting up to witness the culmination of a whole hell of a lot of small, simple choices that were so radical that they led up to this. Because again, I cannot overemphasize the simple beauty of what I’ve written about already:
There was a day when a white man walked into a blind date, saw a Black woman there, and saw beauty. He met a mind and a spirit and a presence he wanted to get to know more, that he wanted to see again. A white man met a Black woman and, in a simple moment in time, found love.
Even in 2018, that’s radical enough just at the bare bones of it. But then we start to add the layers and it gets better.
A British Prince, with all that such a title means and all the history behind it, walked into a blind date where he encountered a woman of color, a Black woman (yes, I know she’s biracial and I honor that, but she looks like a Black woman, just so we’re clear. And yes, that matters and you know it.), and saw beauty. He met a mind and a spirit and a presence he wanted to get to know more, to see again. A British prince met an American Black woman and, in a simple moment in time, found love.
The simplicity of it is what makes it beautiful and powerful. It’s radical because of our time and our context. Set against the background of a world descending into the worst sort of madness, it’s that much more potent. There is clarity and clairvoyance here. History will remember.
When you start thinking about the journey itself, it gets even more incredible. This is a young man who could make all the easy decisions for a very easy, uncomplicated sort of princely existence. He could have picked any one among the parade of rich, blonde women we’ve seen him with before. They would have come with uncomplicated backgrounds, be the sort of match that no one would think twice about. He watched his brother do it to much applause and fanfare. Aside from her racial background and aside from her American citizenship, Meghan is a whole and complete woman: she has experienced a complicated family, a successful career, love and divorce, a life that is complex. She walked into her blind date not just a woman of color, but a whole woman of color. A woman who knows something. A woman who has been somewhere. Choosing Meghan was not the easy choice by outsider standards. Everything here presents questions and complications. Everything here came up against hard questions that required thoughtful answers. Ultimately, the path to this wedding is paved with choices not everyone has the courage to make.
I am getting up tomorrow morning to witness and honor the cascade of radical choices both of these people made that will ultimately result in beautiful and ceremonial history tomorrow. Because both of these people could have chosen something “easier” than what they’ve gotten themselves into. Both of these people could have saved themselves a lot of trouble. Each time they chose the “hard” choice: to do the long-distance thing, to do the inter-continental thing, to do the inter-national thing, to do the interracial thing… they set the example and laid down a little bit of a pathway for others. Hard choices, made with firm belief and deep sincerity, can lead to powerfully beautiful things.
History will never forget that a British prince walked into a blind date, encountered a Black woman and saw a princess. I want to be clear: Harry didn’t make us princess material: we’ve always been that. He simply saw the truth and, in acknowledging and acting upon it, has brought that truth to the attention of the wide world. The whole wide world is going to watch a Black woman walk down the aisle tomorrow and marry a prince. You can write all the headlines you want about how her race doesn’t matter and it will be bullshit, because every brown girl in the whole wide world is going to live in a different world starting tomorrow. I’m getting up tomorrow for the little girl in me who always wanted that coveted “princess” title and was told by the world that such a thing was impossible.
I’m getting up tomorrow in honor of all the marriages that were made by a cascading of seemingly “hard” choices. For those of us radical enough to see a person wholly different and unexpected and find something beautiful. One simple moment in time that was the start of a longer journey, walking on a path paved by the choices less chosen, often with equal amounts fear and fascination. For the moments when Black men have told me I’m a traitor to my race. For the moments when family members told me I was making the wrong decision by dating/marrying The Husband. For the times when we’ve been stared at while at restaurants or out on a walk holding hands. For the times when I’ve wondered what life would be like if I’d done the “easy” thing… for the times when I’ve wondered if The Husband would be better off if he’d gone with an “easier” choice…
I’m getting up tomorrow in the hope that tomorrow’s moment and history’s long memory will spur others to have the courage to take the road less traveled by. That another set of people, seemingly worlds apart, will walk into a room for an encounter and choose something different, something radical… something beautiful. You don’t need to be a prince. You don’t need to be a gorgeous, gracious, wonderful actress. You simply need to be brave. And willing. And capable. Who knows where your cascade of radical choices can lead you if you’re willing to simply make them.
It’s Friday and Fridays are for wishes. Tonight, it’s real simple: choose the road less traveled by, Dear Reader. We live in a world where we’re starting to see the very real, very gruesome results of what happens when too many people make the easy, comfortable choice. Nothing gets done this way. Nothing moves forward. One hard choice will lead to two more, then three and four and the next thing you know, you’ve grown a tree full of choices that are hard, yet result in a bigger, beautiful, productive picture. I wish for you the courage to make just one good, hard choice this weekend. Choose it because you know you’ll grow. Choose it because you know you’ll make the world a little bit better, even through a bit of your discomfort. Start the cascade of radical choices, Dear Reader. Pave the way and set the example so that others may have the courage to do the same. This is how we reclaim the world. History has its eye on you, Dear Reader. Let your infinite beauty shine brightly against the darkness and inspire radical change.
Until Monday, take care.