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Excerpted from Being Black by Angel Kyodo Williams. Copyright 2000 by Angel Kyodo Williams. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Putnam, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"It is only natural that as human beings we want to feel happy, satisfied, and secure."

  Angel Kyodo Williams
Being Black
, Part 1

Wouldn't it be nice if someone offered you a map to navigate and negotiate your life by? It wouldn't be a complex city-type map, with so many signs and symbols that you don't know which way to go. Instead, this life map would be simple and clear, more like a treasure map. The map would have a very neat circle representing a specific destination, a place to arrive where you could rest and feel content, at ease.

Obviously, if there is a destination to which you can go indicated on your map, there would also be a path to get there. It would be bold and clear, and would stand out from all its surroundings.

If you traced your finger backward along the line, the map would have a thick red X to show you the starting point. That way, no matter where you were in life, if you felt lost, you would only have to look at the big X to gain perspective on how to continue on your journey.

Finally, like all good maps, this life map would have a key. The key would be your reference point for understanding the map. It would be the foundation on which the map was built. If you studied the whole map for a while, you could put it down and probably still remember the important things when you really needed to.

What if you paid extra-special attention to the map, gave it your full concentration, until you knew it by heart? No doubt you would be able to approach the task of making your way through life with a deeper understanding of the bumps, curves, mountains, and valleys that you are sure to encounter every day.

In many ways, we are like noble warriors that have somehow been separated from our tribe or clan. We are out in the woods lost and alone, without a map to guide us back. We have forgotten how to use the skills that are the marks of true warriors. In our hearts, we know that we have something great, even beautiful, to accomplish while we are here. We know that we have a grandness and elegance inside us, and we really want to live up to it. But without our skills, we feel stuck and cannot move forward. We know, very deep down, that we do have the ability to manage any situation that comes to us, But because we have lost touch with our true nature and awareness of our abilities, we remain in fear.

It is only natural that as human beings we want to feel happy, satisfied, and secure. But early on, we are given messages that attack our sense of case with who we are. We are not bright enough, or tall enough. As black people, we learn that our skin color is not right, our hair too kinky or curly, our lips too full and our presence too strong. Sometimes these messages are subtle, and at other times they are harshly direct. We carry all of these lessons inside us everywhere we go. They become the box from which we operate and see ourselves. Inside this box, we become smaller and smaller, and forget how amazing we really are.

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