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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Extraordinary Lives - Stories of Black Heroes and Heroines

Neil de Grasse Tyson

I was born into a sick western society that was Bermuda, that followed the lead of that part of American society that felt that black people were only fit to serve as slaves. We were told over and over again, as though it was a part of our education, that we were nothing; that we could not do anything; and that we could never ever amount to anything great. The odd thing was that most of us learned that lesson well. However, Elanor Roosevelt, the wife of the American president cautioned that in order to truly accept that a person was worthless would take the complete cooperation of that person to believe such nonsense.

That sentence belongs in the grouping as other one-line statements that changed the world. I heard it on the radio just one time, but it was like a kick to my backside or a real hard slap to my head. It stayed with me and it ate away at my self doubt until I came to the realisation how true it was. I got angry, and the anger grew into a statement of my own:

"I accept that I can never amount to anything with you standing in my way. I need you to lead, follow, or get the hell out of my way!"  I live by that mantra.

Human beings are tribal creatures. We are defined by the country of our birth, and our ethnic grouping. From within our group we can take pride in the personal accomplishments of people from our country, and in particular, when the person is from our group the thing that is being publicised might either be a matter for great pride, or embarrassment.

I am from the ethnic group of black people from around the world. My roots are in Africa, and my sub-roots are in Bermuda. I have many people who I hold in great esteem for their contributions to society who are white. However, there are some black people who have made fabulous contributions, especially in the performing arts. Those we all applaud and recognize, but others have long been making incredible, but quiet contributions that we take for granted.

I will focus on these people from time to time because they deserve our attention and respect, and because I want to reassure myself that I am not ignoring their accomplishments. I also suspect that in doing so I will succeed in making myself realize that I am somebody who is capable of achieveing greatness.

"Lead, follow, or get the hell out of my way!"

What an inspiring mantra.

I am going to highlight the life of Neil de Grasse Tyson, Astrophysicist, author, science communicator, and television personality. This man has one of the longest Wikipedia biographies I have ever read, so I shall not tag that onto the above-mentioned, but rather it will be his life and accomplishments that I will lead with in the first of this series.

Copyright (c) 2014  Eugene Carmichael