I admit, this week, I was an eclipse chaser. Like millions of others, I played hooky looking for that celestial anomaly that last happened when I was about three years old.
Yes, I know I could have waited seven more years for totality to come to Indiana, but there was special meaning this time around. A convergence in every sense, the occasion dictated a one of a kind trip with my father, little brother and son to chase the path of totality, as 91 percent Indiana had simply wasn’t going to do it.
It didn’t hurt at all that the rarity of the occasion also afforded my son and little brother excused absences. Staying home was simply not an option.
With my dad serving as the captain, my job was strictly to get us there and back safely, navigating what would ultimately prove to be ten driving hours to traverse roughly 250 miles south to catch the right view at the exact time.
Our travel took us to Russellville, KY, but our journey, and the eclipse itself, served as an example for reflection and perspective. En route to what would become our totality site, a small rural elementary school, our path was tarnished all too frequently with signs that our country’s dark past has yet to fully stay in the past.
Deep in rural Kentucky, every couple of miles or so our paths would cross Confederate flags, which were coupled with “Make America Great Again” or other indicators of support for the present Administration. As we soldiered southward to ensure we were in the path, the Kentucky depths showcased easily hundreds of families gazing upward in fields, parking lots and other establishments, though none looked like of us in the car.
Perhaps it is the strange reality in which we find ourselves, where the notion of disenfranchisement has been turned on its head that my enthusiasm evolved to anxiety that perhaps our zeal to soldier south took a wrong turn. In the wake of Charlottesville, or even the President’s most recent racially charged rant this week in Phoenix, it’s no exaggeration that thoughts of Trayvon, Philando or hell even Emmett Till ran through my thoughts. The dread of any interaction with law enforcement, with two young gifted Black boys in tow was real, particularly in this neck of the woods.
But, it was the perfect time for conversation. For my father and I, it served as a reminder to reinforce the very real truth that racial reconciliation and the fight for equity is one that will continue long after we depart this earth. Our children, in all of their exposure to global perspectives, must not only be prepared to compete, and be given the tools to do so; they must recognize the not so distant past has and will affect their present and future.
The talk, where Black parents convey the importance of communication with law enforcement, is now on steroids with the increasing emergence of the racial animus that for a short while lurked in the country’s underbelly.
Strangely though, totality in that locale took on greater meaning. For those fleeting moments (in which we did of course look directly into the phenomenon) we were reminded that light surrounds the darkness of our very real challenges. And as quickly as it happened, the light once again overtook the sky.
So too must be the case for us all. As such, we must continue to do all that is necessary to ensure our children, OUR CHILDREN, walk in that light to cast out the darkness that seeks to separate, oppress, ostracize and discriminate. As we have each been reminded so viscerally these past weeks, there is still much to do.