One Question after Watching 42

courage at bat 42He rubbed red clay between is hands when he stepped up to the plate.

No matter what they threw at him–racial slurs, death threats, or fast balls to the head–Jackie Robinson stepped up to the plate over and over again until he changed this country.

While most images of the Civil Rights Movement (which started nearly a decade after Robinson’s debut in the International League) show groups, often crowds of blacks marching, sitting in, picketing, and boycotting together, every day Jackie Robinson had to go alone, out there in the open arena, exposed to the world, one black man in the white field of Major League Baseball.

Though Jackie Robinson played the star role, a whole cast of characters also stepped up to the plate to help him round the bases, so to speak. This was, after all, much bigger than him, and it was way more than just a baseball game.

Rachel Robinson

First, I applaud the brilliant, on-screen display of love and friendship, passion and partnership between Jackie and his wife Rachel.

It’s by far one of the best depictions of a black couple in mainstream Hollywood, partly because their marriage is so central to the story, as it obviously was in real life.

At every home game, Jackie looked to the stands to find his wife. One smile, one gesture between them communicated more than other spectators could ever know.

She could’ve tried to talk him out of it. Told him that he was putting his son’s life at risk. Said she was tired of fighting alongside him. Complained that it was just baseball, just a silly game. She could’ve broken down. She could’ve left him.

Instead, she stepped up to the plate.

I’m sure she had her fears. Some of the death threats were serious enough to get the FBI involved. And of course there were the injuries on the field, intentional throws at Jackie’s head, but she never wavered.

Branch Rickey

The Dodgers General Manager, Branch Rickey, may not be a household name for the majority of us, but his role is undeniable.

He displayed the kind of courage I wish more whites had displayed throughout history. He didn’t wait for an opportunity to change baseball and ultimately the country, because he knew that the opportunity would never come. Someone had to actively create the opportunity to fight injustice.

He could have died saying I wish baseball was an integrated sport, but instead of wishing it, he made it happen.

Rickey gave more than the usual passive “support” for blacks. He did more than merely “not doing harm.” He did more than merely comforting himself with the notion that he would have signed a black player if he’d only had the chance. He did more than sympathize and feel bad about the whole thing.

Whether his motive was money, guilt, or fear of what God might say on judgment day, Branch Rickey took unequivocal, decisive action to integrate professional baseball.

We’ll never know if there was another player that Rickey could’ve called on that had both the skill and the courage to take on the challenge of single handedly integrating the entire sport of professional baseball, America’s most beloved sport, but we should rejoice that there was Jack Robinson.

I do. I marvel at the perfect alignment of Rickey’s determination with Robinson’s will and Robinson’s mental and physical preparedness. It was, as we say, perfect timing.

The “Team”

There were players who preferred to be traded rather than play with Robinson. Others remained with the Dodgers but never accepted him as a teammate.

But there were some players who seized the opportunity to prove themselves to be better men, and they were a better team for it.

There were many others, on and off the team, depicted in the film and not, who stepped in one way or another, like the sports writer Wendell Smith.

The Film

The first important thing about history is that it happened. The second important thing is that we remember it. Third, we must learn from it.

Foolish people insist that we forget the past in order to live in the present and move forward to the future. But it’s our past that got us to where we are in the present, and if we want a brighter future, we must learn from that past.

So, thank you to Brian Helgeland and the entire crew, to all of the actors, especially Chadwick Boseman, Nicole Beharie, and Harrison Ford.

I read a commentary that said that 42 might be a little old fashioned and safe for some audiences. It definitely lacks the firestorm of debate that surrounded Django Unchained, even though 42 does use its fair share of the “N” word. And In terms of its depiction of black characters, 42 infinitely outshines movies like The Blind Side.

I think the cast and crew of 42 definitely stepped up to the plate on this one and possibly hit it out of the park.

Now You

After watching the film twice so far, once with my siblings, and a second time with my mother, our initial reaction to some of the scenes was: This still happens!

There’s a line in the movie that sounds like something Rush Limbaugh would say: “This ain’t the America I know!”

It may not be in the field of baseball, but we all need to step up to the plate when it comes to carrying the torch for racial equality and justice.

We all have a role to play.

So I leave you with one question that Jackie Robinson’s character asks the Pittsburgh pitcher and ultimately asks himself at the end of the movie:

What are you afraid of?

Are you afraid to talk about racism because it’s so passé?

Is it too taboo in your circle of post-racial friendships?

Will it make you seem uncool or too uptight?

Will you alienate yourself from your family?

Are you scared that you’ll come out looking like the bad guy or the victim?

Is it too painful? Too frustrating? Too complicated?

Well, a bad thing won’t go away simply because you refuse to talk about it.

You have to have the courage to confront it.

What are you afraid of?

Courageous Travel: How to See the World No Matter Your Circumstances

passport for courageous travelGuest Post by Bridget Sandorford

Many of us dream of traveling to exotic lands, filling our passports with stamps from countries around the world. Some of us even dream of living in some of these countries, becoming immersed in the local culture and learning everything we can about the people and their customs.

Yet few of us actually follow through on these dreams for travel. We tell ourselves that we don’t have the time for it, or we don’t have the money. We keep making plans for “one day”–and then keep pushing back that day.

Living courageously means going after your dreams and doing all those things you want to do.

Most of the “obstacles” we see for our plans to travel more can easily be overcome. We just have to readjust our priorities and our perceptions. Here are just a few ways that you can travel more no matter what your circumstances:

Work Abroad

Perhaps the easiest way to see the world without impacting your finances or your everyday routine is to find opportunities to work abroad. If you have a college degree, you can find opportunities to teach English in dozens of countries around the world. However, if you don’t want to teach, there are many other jobs that may allow you to travel, including:

  • Sales representative
  • Diplomat
  • Customer service professional
  • Cruise ship worker
  • Entertainer
  • Translator

Even if you don’t have training in one of these fields, you may still find opportunities to travel with your current company. Talk with your boss about what may be possible. At the very least, you may be able to create a work-from-home arrangement that will allow you to travel and work abroad.

Volunteer

Not surprisingly, you may find more opportunities to work for free than to get paid for your work. There are organizations located all around the world that would be happy to have you as a volunteer — sometimes in exchange for lodging and other amenities. For instance, the group Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) helps place you on organic farms, where you can work for a few days or a few months in exchange for room and board.

There are many other opportunities, which you can research based on your interests. Some organizations may require you to pay a fee to get involved, but the money goes toward supporting the organization. Find what works best for your circumstances and your interests.

Get Free Lodging

There are many ways that you can get free lodging when you travel, cutting down the cost of any trip significantly. Couchsurfing.org helps you to find people who have a spare couch or an extra room that they are willing to let you stay on for a few days or longer. Etiquette suggests that you leave a small gift or offer to cook dinner one night, but nothing is required.

House swapping is another option. You can connect with homeowners in other countries and arrange to swap your houses at the same time. They come stay in your house while you go stay in theirs. Websites that offer the service help to screen participants and offer some level of protection.

Budget and Plan

Of course, the easiest way to make travel possible is to budget and plan. There are dozens of ways to save money on travel, including:

  • Comparison shopping for airfare
  • Booking your airfare, hotel and rental car together
  • Traveling in the off season
  • Staying at hostels and discount hotels
  • Packing your own food
  • Shopping at local markets instead of eating at restaurants
  • Buying advanced combination passes for attractions
  • Using credit cards to get frequent flyer miles for free or reduced airfare

There are dozens of sites online that offer tips for “travel hacks” that can give you even more ideas for how to save money on travel. With enough planning and some smart choices, you can make any trip possible.

Don’t keep dreaming of traveling “one day.” Live courageously and make the choices you need to make travel possible. There are so many options — it just requires that you adjust your perception.


Bridget Sandorford is a freelance food and culinary writer, where recently she’s been researching the best cooking school in the world. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.


The Courage to be Transparent

Guest Post by Vicki Ward

 

“I believe the most important single thing, beyond discipline and creativity is daring to dare.”— Maya Angelou

 

extreme closeup of asian woman wearing glasses; courage to be transparentNo one knows better than writers, the power of words.

How the right ones at the right time can blanket us with warmth like a good winter quilt.

How they can transform us,  pull at our heartstrings, make us laugh, make us cry.

How a good read enables us to escape to different worlds and broadens our horizons.

How the experience enriches us.

But being a good writer requires more than an extensive vocabulary, a gift to gab, and observance of some grammatical rules. Contrary to the hype, it’s not that simple.

Good writers must possess one other important trait: the courage to be transparent.

Being transparent means “going public” with the warts of our lives.  Like sharing stories of the stupid things we did for the men we loved before they left us, or lessons we learned from being fired, or dealing with demons of insecurity, or even fears of growing old.

Story lines that are written in all of our life’s “script.”

And this takes courage.

Putting our work before hundreds or thousands of readers means we must face the risk of rejection. Over and over again. Whether it’s the rejection of editors for articles we‘ve penned, sending out book proposals to agents to secure a book deal, or a blog post that may potentially bomb like the fireworks on the Fourth of July.

But we do it because our transparency not only allows others to see more of us, but to see more about themselves–and the human potential. It enables them to know that they can overcome some of the same obstacles, doubts, and disappointments we have. That regardless of race, sex, or religion, there is more that unites us than makes us different.

In the spirit of transparency (and celebrating the wisdom of women), my new anthology, More of Life’s Spices: Seasoned sistah’s keeping it real showcases the courage of dozens of women from all walks of life and stages, who reveal their personal journeys and invite you to come along.

Here’s a poem that’s an excerpt from the book:

 

Lo Gig

his game
a lo gig
sleeps with me
behind closed doors

walks
deliberate steps
ahead in public
once a brick house beauty
I suck back tears
remember tender youth
pour my brittle heart
into his arms   frigid   insincere

he
gives me bad sex   quick   painful
cops a crude dime and whine
for rent and cash
dines and wines another

thinks me
dumb and desperate
I  feel
dumb and desperate

bite my tongue as he
bites in his talk
until need rises
then

sweet in his beg
a gigolo
who belittles
and strikes
deathing blows
to my generous
but
closing hand

 


Vicki Ward’s essays and poetry appeared in several anthologies and collections. A former entertainment writer, covering live concerts, and stage plays, her literary focus shifted to writing books about women’s needs and concerns. She edited Life’s Spices from Seasoned Sistahs, an award winning anthology from the voices of mature women of color. She followed that releasing Savvy, Sassy and Bold after 50, a handbook for maturing women packed with financial, health, and retirement strategies for women reaching midlife. Ward has also presented empowerment workshops at women’s conferences and universities. Now retired, she writes full time focused on strategies to empower maturing women to navigate a new phase of their lives.

For more info visit her site at: Nubianimagespublishing.com


How Do You Define Courage?

courage definition“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” ― Atticus Finch

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” ― Coco Chanel

Clearly, I could talk forever and a day about courage, and lots of people have already spoken their piece about it.

But I don’t want to go on and on, ad infinitum without hearing from you!

I want to know how you define courage.

I enjoy blogging because of the continuous feedback loops. It’s a social medium meant to connect and engage people in dynamic dialogue.

So, leave a comment with your definition of courage.

Your definition may be short or long; descriptive, narrative, or expository; a personal example or an intellectual philosophy.

You can quote others or write a poem.

Feel free to post more than one.

I’ll also be asking the same question of Facebook and Twitter, so you can read what others have to say on those networks as well.

You can tweet to @SLWrites or post to my Facebook page.

You can attach appropriate (PG) images or links to relevant content.

Like, retweet, or reply to other definitions that appreciate.

Do what you feel as long as you answer the question:

How do you define courage?

 

I’ll be doing a follow up post compiling all of the favorite quotes. Come back to see what’s made the list.