Introspection of The Lotus Manjè, Vol. 10

The Power Within a Page

From a very young age, my parents put a book in my hand to read. I remember more of reading a book and looking at the words more than I do playing outside in front of my house. Up until my high school graduation, I had kept up reading more and more books that become increasingly more complex, but even more rewarding after I was done with them.

I kept this habit up even during my time in basic training. But after graduating there, I was so swept up in my new lifestyle that I forgot about books for a short time. Every now and then during my short stint in the army, I would find a book that grabbed my interest, but it was short lived and forgotten.

It wasn’t until I let the army that I finally decided to start reading again since I had the time. It was great to be lost in a book and think “Hot shit! I understand what the author is saying! I’m not crazy! Why didn’t I read this sooner!?”

The only difference in between my younger years and picking up a book later was that I starting reading self improvement books, as well as ones on finance. The information in there was invaluable, and still is. It is amazing how some things in a book can still be relevant even after twenty or even forty years, let alone a century.

And then a thought occurred: Why don’t black people read more?

I remembered watching The Birth of a Nation directed by Nate Parker. The scene that stuck out to me the most was in the beginning of the movie, when Nat Turner as a young boy was in the house with the slavemaster’s wife and was looking at a book on the shelf. The wife said “Those books aren’t for you” and gave the boy a bible.

All I could think was “Well… shit.”

A saying I’ve seen a few times online went like this: “If you want to hide something from a black person, put it in a book.” Needless to say, that saying made absolutely no sense to me in my younger years, but now I see that many problems facing black people in America would not be so profound, let alone outright nonexistent, if we were more willing to read. I’ve been made fun of before for reading back in high school, from a girl no less, and I chuckle every time I think of it because I know I’m better off than her right now (not to toot my own horn, but still).

Sometimes it feels like a losing battle just to tell the people in my circle to read and look for new opportunities. Nonetheless I still take the time to do so. In a larger scope, doing the same across America is daunting, but I believe it is doable. College is great and all, but being “educated” is completely different from being “informed.” Take that how you will.

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