(Because of him)
Carlos walks through the metal detectors while suspicious-eyed, white police officers dismiss him with one look. A gang banger. A wet back. Another mouth to feed with hard earned tax money. The heavy cold judgement hammers him another inch into the ground, the ground threatening to hold him where he is, to keep him from the clouds where he knows he belongs. What the white eyes don’t know, what the circumstances can’t uncover, is that Carlos holds one thing they can’t touch with their pronouncements about him. His hand grips tightly around his own small bit of hope. He will not let go of it.
Benjamin, the teacher, drags himself to the front of the class, the friction from the futility of it beats at him. What’s the use? A class of brown, black, and yellow faces, single mothers, poor neighbourhoods, drugs, knives, guns, hopelessness- what chance did any of them have? But he spies a slim chance. A sliver of a space that will allow them to pass if only they can see it, if they can fit through. He has hope that in each passing from here to there, the space is widened allowing more to make their way. And so he tries again and again and again.
Black Diana has made bad choices to survive. Sharing beds for money, taking drugs to hide the reality of a life without a single door leading out. But she sees herself in the mirror, not the lined face of a middle aged woman battered into submission; it is the little girl she recognises there. The one she left behind. The one who dreamed of dancing until she was told, “Not for you”; the one who wanted her name in lights. She whispers to her, “I haven’t forgotten you.”
He was a skinny boy with a foreign father raised by a single mother. Not black enough, not white enough. Labels threatened to weigh him down and push him into the boxes they chose. He was intelligent, and that let him through, but many are intelligent, and they don’t move mountains. He was eloquent, but eloquence can be taught. He held something more valuable. He asked himself questions that only he could answer. And he didn’t shy away from the answers he found deep in his heart. He didn’t make excuses. He held his hope jealously and used it as a beacon through dark nights and darker days where the light revealed the obstacles ahead. He knew his destiny held more than those around him were able to imagine. He followed what he knew to be true.
Carlos, Ben and Diana stand in the crowd of hundreds of thousands, their hearts quivering in their chests, recognising themselves in the faces around them. They’ve all made a pilgrimage in search of validation.
He stands before them, speaks, and suddenly those handfuls of hope held in brown, black, yellow, red, and white hands all over the world make sense. They are not silly dreams of ungrounded people without their practical feet stuck in the concrete of reality. They are now the paths to a day written in the stars and across the universe. It is easy to see now; those handfuls of hope are the wings that will set each of them free.
Hope empowering hope; the chain reaction has started
and it cannot be stopped.