Yesterday I had the joy of meeting acclaim writer James McBride, the author of The Color of Water.
Despite the embarrassment I received while taking a video of him, I thought that what he delivered to us was very interesting and encouraging. He had a way of telling stories not too many people have. He is the kind of person who you would not mind listening to. I wonder if he was shy or nervous while talking or if he felt completely comfortable talking to us. Sometimes the speaker would mention that they are nervous or anxious but he didn’t.
He started by telling us about our shared history in America. “Whites and Blacks have a shared history and the best thing that we can do is learn to appreciate our respective history”. I think our history is more than shared, I think it is the same if we are to look past color. It is one history. I am an American before I am African- American. Isn’t the founding fathers of this country, founding fathers of my country as it is any white person?
He continued by telling us that we know how to succeed but now we should learn how to fail. “You have to give yourself the right to fail” he said. Of all the things I have heard as something encouraging I have to say I was at first surprised. Learn how to fail? What could he possibly mean? And what I took away is not to be afraid to fail. Failure will come and is going to come but do not give up. He continued saying When you fail, you attack what ever you are doing or trying to do, harder. He said more but I am dwelling on that for right now. At this moment in my life I have to accept and I have been accepting my failures. I’ve been greeting them and smiling through them and continuing on.
Anyways, let me tell you how he embarrassed me and how somehow right there I connected to his speech. So, here he is talking and here I am video taping him. And towards the end of his speech he said to me: Are you video taping this? Please don’t do that. And instead of feeling embarrassed, I felt great. Number one, I was the only one who was there video taping James McBride- the only one with a camera and using it. I also was the only one who got called out. And was not afraid to fail right there. I put his philosophy into practice. I stopped because he asked me to but the thought did cross my mind to continue. What could he or what would he had done IF I dared to continued. That would have been some story! But I wanted him to sign my book and journal and take a picture with me so I stopped.
He is in my Hats or Hatsnot series because he had a cool swagger about him. I promised him- well didn’t promise- but told him I would not put the video on Youtube so you can’t see it however, it doesn’t mean I can’t put it on my blog. But his poise was very together. Very calm, cool and collected.