“Life’s A Trip”
When I was in 8th grade I went to Booker T. Washington Middle school in Baltimore. It’s named after THAT Booker T, the one who dug himself ‘Up From Slavery,’ not the wrestler that goes, “Can You Dig That, Sucka?”
Our class was out for lunch and some of the guys decided to go to the basketball court to shoot some hoops. As we’re all standing outside watching the others play a game of 3 on 3, another classmate asked one of the best basketball players in our school if we could listen to a new cd of music he brought to school that had just come out that week while he was playing his game of 3 on 3. The star basketball player and I were fast becoming unlikely friends and he was a cool and friendly person so … he said, “Yeah.” One of our fellow classmates put the disc in the tray, closed the lid, and pressed play. We all were continuing to watch the game for awhile, listening to and enjoying the music but then the bell rung and we all had to go inside. Someone took the cd out and put it back in its case.
Problem was, the star basketball player of our school looked at it realizing it had scratches on it. He asked who did it and handful of people blamed me, enough for him to think I did it. Though I denied it, it didn’t matter because enough people accused me of something and that’s all it took.
As we were all entering back into school and as I was coming up the steps he tripped me from behind. As I picked myself up he moved past me towards the threshold of the school door whispering, “sorry, I had to.”
At that moment I learned a few lessons about life:
It’s not what’s true, it’s what you can prove.
That folks WILL throw you ‘under the bus’ to save face, or “not look like a punk.”
That reputation is important but also can be a crutch and a justification for treating people with disrespect.
I also learned to never allow anyone to lie on me and if they do, to fight instead of just accepting other people’s truth about me and/or walking away.
My dignity and name was at stake and because I didn’t refute what people said or at least fight for my honor, I was treated dishonorably no matter what the truth was.