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MY TRUTH: A Reality Check

Michael drinks from “White Only” Fountain

Michael drinks from “White Only” Fountain

Recently during a speech, I praised the Black Press:

“As the Black Press celebrates 195 years, I thank the National Newspaper Publishers Association for continuing to be that VOICE, even when those we are speaking for sometimes don’t realize that all ice is 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some thought that was a powerful statement because in essence, I was saying that no one else’s ice is colder.

Which brings me to my truth.

Everyone has a story to tell and one day I was multitasking and watching a movie.

White Water is the story of a 7-year-old Black child in segregated 1963 Opelika, AL, who becomes obsessed with the desire to taste the water from the “white’s only” drinking fountain and sets out on a quest to do the unthinkable: drink from it.

A child can get into trouble because of their inquisitive nature and young Michael does exactly that. His curiosity almost ended up with him becoming another statistic as he faced members of the Ku Klux Klan, in and out of police uniforms.

In the movie, Michael also suffered through switches and scoldings; as well as a praying mother, as he was hell-bent on drinking from the white water fountain.

In town, there was a water fountain with two faucets. Over one, hung the sign, “White Only” and the other had a sign that read, “Colored.”

As Michael drank from the “Colored” fountain, his young white “friend” drank from the “White Only” one.

For some reason, or at least from his observation, Michael surmised that the water had to be different because his friend seemed to be enjoying the water so much more than he was.

From that point on, Michael wanted to taste the white water. It was as though he was being seduced.

“White water was like an oasis in the distance, calling my name,” he said. “I wanted to taste the water from the white people’s fountain!”

Now what is important to note about the movie is that eventually young Michael appeared to get something that folks ten times his age seem not to grasp: the water is all the same — the water is no better than the water coming out of the colored one.

When a police officer asked him why he drank from the White Only faucet, Michael responded, “I wanted to know what it tasted like.”

It was only then that he was shown that both faucets were fed by the same pipe.

Yep, Michael drank from the white only fountain and immediately said, “Tasted like the same rusty, hot water from our fountain.”

He also realized that strange things happen when you face death, “you don’t have nothing to lose.”

We need to do like the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey urged, “fall in love with ourselves and our people,” then we won’t think that everything from or by someone else is better than that coming from or made by someone who looks like us.

Michael said the “White Only” sign had nothing to do with reality.

I think we all need a reality check!

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