The winds of change are coming again. Just last week I was a gym teacher. I thank the universe for my opportunity in physical education. The five months I spent as a gym teacher truly made me appreciate the tremendous potential, capabilities, and glory of my own body and all bodies in general. The human body is simply amazing. It does so many wonderfully simple and complex movements, but still with all its capacity for movement, agility, flexibility, strength, or what have you, the catalyst all starts in the same place… The mind. Whether you are the best athlete or a person who struggles to run, the beginning is in the brain. Gym class verified a couple of things for me. We all start in different places, that is true. Some people are more talented than others, that is true as well. We all can also learn to do a couple of things better if we try a little bit and practice patience, effort, and tolerance.
This is the moment in the article where I make a bit of a jump possibly so please bear with me. I had the honor and extreme benefit today of being in the presence of Dr. Terrence Roberts. He was a member of the Little Rock Nine and an integral part of our nation’s tumultuous relationship with race and equality. I was definitely caught off guard by the lecturer and his presence in a Dorchester middle school auditorium this Tuesday morning on the way to art. It was an easy enough decision to spend my planning and development hour on listening to intellect and courage in action. Immediately you felt a tremendous sense of identity and high self-worth. It was amazing to have this wonderfully positive and powerful black man in the presence of our young black males especially, as well as all of our children. His message was potent and simple. Your mind is supremely powerful and it is all YOURS.
I realize now you may be thinking how am I going to link my gym class and our nation’s race relations besides the fact the gym is directly across from the auditorium in which Dr. Roberts spoke? Good question. My answer is controlled chaos. No, haha, but that is definitely gym class and probably our nation most days, right? Maybe, but I’ll be serious now. Dr. Roberts highlighted a fascinating psychological maneuver his mother implemented on him and his siblings at an early age. His mother quite frankly told them all that peer pressure does not exist. If you want to do something, you should clearly deliberate between the options and then decide for yourself which is beneficial. If someone else happens to do the same thing so be it, but they shouldn’t have any true bearing on your decision making process. I quickly thought how great a lesson to be taught! How many achievements are not dared due to weak minded conformity. Now, he made a statement about extremist thinking and its faults, but with a powerful sense of personal identity such as this it’s no wonder he was courageous enough to be part of such an historic event! Can you imagine entering high school approaching the doors yearning for learning and erudition and instead you get spitting, snickering, name calling, threats on your life and the need for the Armed National Guard? Dr. Roberts’ explanation for his quest was strong and honest. He himself was totally aware of his own ignorance so he couldn’t blame others for theirs, but the same passion and fervor with which they hated him and indulged their own ignorance, he would use to establish fair standing for himself and others and do his best to rid himself of his own vast “warehouse of ignorance”.
Dr. Roberts is most powerful to me for his ability to deal with hard truths. Addressing a personal weakness is never an easy undertaking, but it is commendable and worth the effort. Back to gym class, this truth was evident to me everyday. Daily I had to coach the merits of effort: it’s okay to fall, get back up, be patient, be tolerant of others’ abilities, and always keep a positive team spirit. In my teachings, I have learned that I have been taught many things extremely well. I have taken many things I do now for natural behaviors when in fact so many have been practiced, engrained, socialized, or learned for various needs and applications. I am astounded again by Dr. Roberts’ gifts and will power, and simultaneously I think America has had some teachers who could benefit us now by learning how to do things differently so we can ALL learn better. Running a mile is not easy, but it can get easier. I believe just as well that we all start on a tolerance spectrum that can be adjusted accordingly with persistence towards a goal. And just as there are bullies in gym class who have to comply with school based guidelines and consequences, the same should go for societal infrastructures, major corporations, and figures.
Maybe here we get back to the question of how do I link today’s prominent speaker and race relations and education with gym class routines. I think the answer is also more apparent now that we have had a little time together. I truly believe the two are well linked because they both rely so heavily upon action and accountability. In order for ANYTHING to progress or advance, it will requires action and accountability on each of our parts. I know accountability can be a hard thing and it requires mistakes, forgiveness, and honesty, so we need patience with each other and perhaps even more importantly with ourselves. We have come a long way as a nation, we must not forget. However, it is imperative that we all take action to do our personal best. Taking an initiative and being accountable and invested in your best has not failed yet. I saw visual human proof and report cards today. Be well and do well.