Love and Unity In the Age of Black Lives Matter
© Jerome DeVonni Wilson
It was one of the hottest days of the summer. That unbearable, uncomfortable, everyone-is-irritable type of heat here on the plantation where we’re probably still another century away from having AC installed — if ever.
I’d been tossing and turning all night, tormented by both the heat and insects, which were proving to be formidable enemies. At about 2:00 a.m., I felt someone touch me. I opened my eyes to find my little brother seated on my table just a few inches away from my bunk. He had his foot on the stool and was extending his arm toward me, offering me a glass of something to drink.
My mouth quickly began to salivate; however, when I reached for the glass, he pulled it back and said, “Brother, before I quench your thirst, tell me one thing…the water in this glass is only halfway. Is it half empty or half full?”
I raised up on the bunk and placed my feet on the floor. I labored to find his eyes in the darkness. “Bro, is that water cold or the temperature of the sink water?”
“Do you think I would come all the way here to bring you something that’s only a few feet away from you?” he said while turning his head toward the sink.
“Bro, sit the glass on the table.”
I moved my body to the left so that a sliver of moonlight — or was it the light from the guard tower? — could pass over my right shoulder. I could see sweat on the glass, still beaded, a tight pattern of droplets from the middle of the glass all the way down to the base, with the occasional run line where a drop had succumbed to gravity.
“Did you drink any of that water?” I asked.
“Once again, why would I come all this way to bring you cool water, just to drink half?”
“Lil’ bro, that glass is half full.”
He smiled. “But how can you be so sure?”
“Well, before I could even begin to give you an answer I had to know the background of the glass.”
“And…the water is halfway, which means it either had to be filled halfway or emptied halfway. There was a process. The water couldn’t just appear at that level,” I assured.
He passed me the glass and said, “Your heart.”
“My heart?” I asked, perplexed.
“You used to beam with love abundantly. Love for your family, folks, and friends, but you have been hurt and abandoned. You must not let your emotions direct your moves, yet you also mustn’t become emotionally detached either.”
I nodded as he continued.
“You are a Black man interconnected with a greater universe; the Black body. If there is a turmoil inside of you, how will there not be turmoil around you?”
Once again, I nodded as a drop of water made its way to my hand from the glass.
He continued. “The Black man, as in the men of the Black body collective, feel as you do: hurt and abandoned. They are —and are becoming — numb and emotionally bankrupt to where they can’t possibly feel loved. And to not feel loved is to not have love to reciprocate.”
“Right,” I said, while listening and trying to discern whether or not I honestly felt loved, like do I really f—— matter to anyone? If so, who? And if that love is enough, why is there still a void? How much love is enough love?
His next words startled me. “I hear your questions just as you heard mine, when I asked if the cup was half empty or half full.”
This caused me to stiffen and straighten my posture.
“The glass was symbolic of you, and you are like an organism in a bigger, breathing, living entity. The contents of the glass are symbolic of love, so in essence, the question was: Are you half full or half empty?”
Silently, I stared at nothing…trying to see. To know…
“Remember, you had to first know the history of the glass. There was a process that led to the level being halfway. What was the process that led you to being halfway?”
“I don’t know, I guess hurt and abandonment are factors…”
“Then start with those elements. How would you reverse those factors?”
“Hurt and abandonment? I guess with love and loyalty.”
“Unity, bro. Love and unity.”
“But why unity and not loyalty? What’s the difference?”
“Oneness. Loyalty has too many loopholes, like the gender thing nowadays. Its definition has become wishy-washy. What if one’s loyalty…one’s unswerving faithfulness, is obliged to a person, ideal, or institution that is ill-conceived?”
“One would be loyal to a flaw,” I said.
“Loyalty is being attached to the essence of something. Unity is being a part of something and making something whole; one and all.”
“All as one.”
“But lil’ bro, you seem to not take into account the fact that I can’t make anyone love me, much less unite with me.”
“No, but you can love yourself completely. And you don’t have to make others love you, you teach them to love themselves, and once they love themselves, they’ll want to love others. They’ll see likenesses of themselves in others.”
“Bro, I’ll be honest with you,” I said, while realizing that my hand was becoming wetter and wetter, yet I was still thirsty. “I’m not sure I’m capable of loving myself enough to even qualify as a tutor in that department.”
Smiling, he softly stated, “Big bro, consume the tears and become full of childlike love again.”
Tears? But I wasn’t crying.
I guess he was back on that Return of the Jedi read-my-mind trip again, because he said, “I have given you the tears of our fathers; our only real forefathers, who pine for the Black body collective to become replenished with love and unite so that they — you — can then unify all of humanity.”
He then tilted his head toward the glass in my hand.
When I glanced down at the glass, I thought I had to be trippin’ because not only was it full, but the cup…well, runneth over! The drops I had been feeling on my hand weren’t from the dew at all. Eyes wide, I looked back up to where my brother was.
Was. He had vanished. Zeroed. (But y’all saw that comin’, right?)
Thirstily, I consumed the ambrosial elixir, which caused me to feel some type of way; vivified. I then cut on my nightlight and sat down to write an entry in my journal:
Love and Unity in the Age of Black Lives Matter…