Friday, November 30, 2007

If I could...

Something about Regina Bell’s version of If I Could has always touched me and it inspired me today…

I remember the day when it hit me. I taught women’s health classes at a shelter and we were going to cover sexually transmitted diseases that evening. There I stood, looking out at ten women who were looking back expecting me to lecture them, judge them and then ignore them.
If I could…I'd protect you from the sadness in your eyes…give you courage in a world of compromise. Yes I would, if I could. I would teach you all the things I've never learned and I'd help you cross the bridges that I've burned.

Yes I would, if I could.


My mind scrambled and I was, in an instant, filled with a frustrated rage. I didn’t want this…I thought. I don’t need this shit…my heart screamed. I can’t handle this responsibility and what if I fuck this shit up and oh God please let them listen, let them listen, let them listen and then understand that more than anything I want them to live and prosper and be happy.

I would try to shield your innocence from time, but the part of life I gave you isn't mine. I've watched you grow so I could let you go. If I could, I would help you make it through the hungry years. But I know that I can never cry your tears.

But I would, if I could.
That’s when it sunk in that I wasn’t in control of their lives. They weren’t a project I was going to be graded on. In that moment my students became my sisters. The rage shifted to fear and, in a flash, fear shifted into a determined concern.

My generation grew up with words like HIV and AIDS in our vocabulary. I vividly recall watching reports and seeing images…the fear, misinformation and bigotry that took over…then the ignorance and lack of compassion…and always the self righteous judgment and careless disregard. Now, so many years later, the young women who sat before me represented an emerging demographic at risk and it felt like another case of history repeating.

I live in a time and place where you don't want to be. You don't have to walk along this road with me. My yesterday won't have to be your way.

Would they know the same fear or face the same lack of resources and information our generation did? Would they be victims of the abortion debate, denied knowledge for ‘their own good’ refused prevention for the ‘sake of their souls’ then denied treatment to ‘punish their sins’?

Are the wages of being born young, black and poor still hunger, illness and death?

If I knew, how I'd try to change the world I brought you to. And there isn't very much that I can do. But I would, if I could.
I wanted them to know how much I want a better world for us all. I want to wake up tomorrow, turn on the news and hear that war is over…hunger is at an end…and AIDS has been cured at last.

If I could, I would try to shield your innocence from time. But that part of life I gave you isn't mine. I watched you grow so I could let you go.
So, there I stood looking out at ten women who were looking back expecting me to lecture them, judge them and then ignore them.

If I could, I would help you make it through those hungry years. But I know that I can never cry your tears. But I would, if I could.

They were my students and my sisters in the struggle…mothers and daughters and cousins and friends…and I spoke to them as such.

Yes I would.
“Today we’re going to talk about sex, and your body and your health.”

Oh yes I would.
“We are in this together.”

If I could.
“Shall we begin…?”

Every day is World AIDS Day until we have a day without AIDS.

Begin.

12 comments:

Diana said...

that was really beautiful. thank you. And forbidden information for their own good, refused prevention for the sake of their souls, and refused treatment to punish their sins is just the perfect description...

Worldlyblackmale said...

Hey, I just discovered this blog and have been an avid reader for the last week. Great job!!

Yankee T said...

Once again, riveting, beautiful, raw, and pertinet. Love this place!

Maya's Granny said...

The world needs more people who do what you do with the love that you bring to it. Thank you for being there.

Farfisa said...

Wow, powerful. You have a way of poking those of us who hang a little more in the background. And Diana quoted what was my favorite part as well. Where is my mom's old bumper sticker? "The moral majority is neither"

Nikki said...

I, too, just discovered your blog a few weeks ago and have made it a daily stop in my blog reading. Not to diminish or take away focus from your message, but I also have to agree with everyone else and say that you are a phenomenal writer. If you haven't already, you should really considering publishing your work (i.e. getting paid for your talents). Meanwhile, thanks for giving one of your gifts to us for free.

Liberality said...

thank you for this beautiful post. it brought tears to my eyes.

rikyrah said...

I'm dropping an OT here:

Most important news to come out of the Black and Brown Forum in Iowa and something that should be of concern to the AfroSphere:

Hillary Clinton comes out AGAINST retroactivity in drug sentencing.

Just spreading the word, because this is major.

Mike said...

Was looking at other St. Louis bloggers and found your site. I saw your occupation. I clicked on it to see how many other people were in the same line of work as you. 153! Hopefully all of you won't get together at some kind of professional association meeting. The meeting could be a BITCH! :)

Feminist Gal said...

that was really beautiful.

Spadoman said...

Like the Worldly one before me, I have also been stopping by here and like very much what I read. Very good eye opening subject in this post for sure.

In the mid 1980's, I taught a communications class for nursing assistant students at a technical college in rural Minnesota. I honestly had some of the same thoughts, that I was to stand before these women who were in school, making an effort to what they wanted to be as betterment in their lives. I wanted so bad to be effective in helping them in some way. Inspire them in some way. I was already older than most of them and I wanted to try to get across the point that they don't have to make the same mistakes that I did.

One young student got up and read me the riot act. She put me down and accused me of not understanding the struggles that she, as a woman, had to endure with issues like child care, health care, sexism, brutality, job and wage discrimination and still attempt to get an education to help her own cause.

Your post is a wake up call. The problems still persist and are getting worse. We must be aware.

Thanks.

faboo said...

Best blog post of the year.

I was just thinking about you and then you popped up on my site. I'm glad I popped over to see this.