Dentist, Fire Fighter, Doctor, Lawyer, etc., etc., etc.
Out of all of the previously mentioned professions, including the etcetera’s, I wanted to be an Astronaut when I grew up. I was utterly intrigued with space. I wanted to know everything about it. Think about it…Space. The word given to it is the same word we called space in our rooms, houses, and even outside. That boggled my mind as a child.
Growing up in the Dearborn Holmes Projects for the early part of my life with my single mother, I use to watch a program on WGN that advertised Space Camp. The premise of the show was, you watch the show, answer the questions that were asked at the end of the show, mail your answers to the address given and you could get a chance to go to this space camp. I was stoked, ecstatic, filled with joy at this opportunity. If I can just get in this camp it’ll make all of the difference.
My name is Lynell. Have you heard of a Tall, Dark, and Handsome astronaut by that name? No? Well, I didn’t make it. That’s why you haven’t heard of my name. I didn’t even hear back from the camp. I didn’t even push myself to go for my dreams. I wasn’t even 10 years old, should I have known better to go for it, to bet on myself, to forget what everyone else thinks and go for my dreams? This was the late 80’s and the only world I knew of was the Projects I lived in. Stepping into someone’s house was a luxury to me, watching Mickey Mouse on television was considered making it to me, I even considered eating cherries as a delicacy.
I want you to take what I just said and multiply it by the number of Black Men who also wanted to be an Astronaut, Dentist, Fire Fighter, Doctor, Lawyer, and any other profession a young black boy dreams about, and I know the rebuttal to this is “not everyone grows up to be what they want to be.” Think about this, what if we had the backing of a community, our people, people who were already in these professions to steer us right. What if my own father gave me a Father to son talk about never giving up on your dreams. Even the smallest flame appears to be an inferno to a child. My father didn’t give me that talk, he was too busy in and out of jail and contrary to popular belief, women cannot be both a child’s mother & father.
We needed guidance and I wanted to be an astronaut dammit. Not a 34-year-old Man just putting together the pieces of life and going to school to start a profession. As much as I want to blame someone I can’t because it’ll prevent me from finishing school and starting my profession. It’ll prevent us, the Black Men now, from picking up the torch someone else dropped.
Lynell from Style Is Life