Monday, July 28, 2008

Why Black People Need To Stop Wishing For Change In Our Lives And Our Communities

"Bolie, you are going to catch a tiger tonight. I'm gonna make a wish. I'm gonna make a big tall wish, and you ain't gonna get hurt none, either. You hear, Bolie? You've been hurt enough already, and you're my friend, Bolie. You're my good and close friend."

One of my all-time favorite Twilight Zone episodes is The Big Tall Wish. It was the only episode in the show's history that featured a predominately black lead cast. The storyline is about the relationship between a washed-up boxer and a little boy who admires him. The twist to the story is that the little boy has an unwavering belief in wishes. He believes that if you want it bad enough and concentrate hard enough, your wish, any wish will come true.

Throughout the episode he repeatedly and passionately exclaims to the boxer, "You got to believe in the magic, Bolie!" The problem for Bolie is that he can't believe in magic or wishes any more. He has been too beat down by the realities of the world to believe. Bolie can't even believe when the boy's wish for him comes true. He is a broken man looking for just a little peace, a little joy in his small corner of the world.

"Little boys, little boys with their heads full up with dreams. When do they find out, Frances? When do they suddenly find out that there ain't any magic? When does somebody push their face down on the sidewalk and say to them, "Hey, little boy. That's concrete, and that's what the world is made out of—concrete." When do they find out that you can wish your life away?"

Bolie forces the boy to take back the wish and makes him promise to grow up and stop making wishes. Bolie intention is not to hurt the boy or dash his hopes for the future, his desire is to have the boy understand that you have to deal with what you get handed in life, not spending time making wishes to change things. Wishes are for children, not adults.

Every time I watch this episode, I am struck by the fact that too many black people in real life spend too much time hoping and wishing for change, instead of pursuing it themselves. Our dependence on others to change the circumstances of black folks has become a paralyzing stumbling block and poisoning frustration for those who are attempting to make things better with real tangible action.

I understand the appeal of wishing, but I think that may be it's time black folks just start admitting that the changes black people need and must make are going to be painful and not without causalities. Some of us are going to get left behind. We must proceed forward with or without folks. And it's on us to do it.


Faith July 28, 2008 at 4:23 PM  

This is where I think we've collectively not addressed and moved on from all the psychic and generational pain from surviving slavery and the belief that we are inferior. As much as I hated those CNN specials because it doesn't accurately portray ALL of us it does reflect SOME of us. Are those the people we have to leave behind? What about the Black elite? What is their responsibility? Is it every person for themselves? Where's the line in the sand?

Mista Jaycee July 28, 2008 at 7:00 PM  

You are right about wishes but not about magic. Magic is imgagination and when it translates to vision, it can become reality. A.C Clark in childhoods end visualized satilites. Star Trek inspired small handheld but powerful technology. Hedy Lammar, the first woman who bared his breasts for the camera, wrote the theory of frequency hopping on a cocktail napkin. It's one of things that makes cel phone tech possible.
Where would we be if Dr. Carver hadn't put his ear to the earth and let it speak to him?

Professor Tracey July 28, 2008 at 9:43 PM  

@Faith -

No one said anything about anyone being inferior, so I'm not quite sure where you got that from. And nobody mentioned slavery, it's the 21st century and time to stop making excuses for people.

And you're right the CNN specials reflect SOME of us, but not the MAJORITY of us. And that's the problem of those specials.

And what is the black elite? Who are you talking about? And why does it matter? There are black people, everyday ordinary black people who go to work, raise their families, are good neighbors, etc.... How long are they supposed to put up with those that REFUSE to do the same?

Black folk need to stop worrying about those who WON'T and worry about those that WILL.

Ananda July 29, 2008 at 12:41 AM  

AMEN. I feel the last part that we have to move on with or without folks.

GoldenAh July 29, 2008 at 1:11 PM  

I'm sympathetic - it tough for people today.

Wishes are an expression of people who don't know the way. The worse thing is not to know how to sort out the complexity of modern life.

There's always this fine print (of life) that they can't understand. Look at the foreclosures and subprime mess starting from Main Street and stretching to Wall Street.

I remember back when I was a kid, a teen and even now - I get a ton of advice from people who know how to get from point A to point Z. A lot of people don't have that.

Ignorance is expensive, and often deadly.

Anonymous,  July 29, 2008 at 4:22 PM  

I just stumbled onto your blog via BlogHer. Love it! This post is excellent and from what I've read on the rest of your blog so far is very engaging and thought provoking as well. I'm gonna check out that TZ episode.

Lindiwe August 12, 2008 at 12:15 AM  

I have seen this episode a few times . . . I beg to differ . . the impression the story left with me was more so the idea that Bolie was a washed out boxer because he never believed in HIMSELF. It is not about magic or dreaming it is about believing that you can do something and strive to do it..Another way of saying that there is strength in the power of positive thinking. Believe it . . . see it . . . and achieve it. . . is my motto. Tell a child that he or she can be educator, and what you may or may not have an educator. A child tells you that he or she wants ( believes) to Doctor, nurture that belief and you have a doctor. No magic and especially no dream...Don't get me started on the DREAM thing.PLZ

On the same glove, the little boy believed in Bolie boxing ability and the little boy's power (positive thinking) had transformed the outcome of the boxing match. Do not confuse dreaming with believing.

My other motto is JUST DO IT, but you got to believe that you can do it. The Big Tall Wish has several morals. I could slip this one more time, but I will leave well enough alone. Because some folks need their subconscious(dreams) to tell them to change, because during their awake hours they probably do not get enough positive reenforcement from their peers or family member.

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