If It's Broke, Fix It

When I was in college, I made it my duty to enroll in a few classes that would not only earn me credits toward my degree, but also teach me important lessons. I had already learned a lot from my experiences alone at an HBCU (Historically Black College or University). I was in a whole new world, to say the least.

Growing up in a rural area with a small population of minorities meant I would miss several opportunities to learn about my culture. In school, we glazed over the accomplishments of black leaders and dreamers just enough to cross it off the list of subjects that needed to be covered. It became a bit repetitive -- learning about Martin, Malcolm, Harriet, and Frederick. I had heard the same names every year of my schooling, and frankly I begin to wonder if there were anymore of "us" that I could learn about.

There were.

I took an African American History class, two to be exact. One semester focused on the times leading up to the Civil War, and the other semester focused on events after. I learned so much information that I almost felt robbed of an education from my grade school and high school days.

Was this really the world I lived in? One that only skinned the surface of my history, my culture, my ancestry. Sadly, it was.

There were days I left the class feeling empowered. Other days, not so much. I felt defeated, beaten, degraded, and depressed. How had a group of people gone through so much, yet come so far? The answers were buried in between the homemade book cover made from a brown paper bag (which I covered in doodles from episodes of daydreaming)and wrapped around a well-written history book. Finally, there was an entire book dedicated to my people. I could use the knowledge from my lectures to hold grudges, or, I could take that same knowledge and run with it.

I ran.

Booker T. Washington was often the topic of discussion. His name is penned in several periods of black and American history. The reason he sticks out so vividly in my head is due largely to his concern with labor. At a time when labor was intended only for slaves, Washington viewed it as a form of uplifting. He felt that the skills acquired from building, fielding, fetching, and other tasks were worth more than one could have anticipated.

I'm no history buff. And I certainly could use a refresher course, but I remember this lecture after several years. It may have something to do with the passion of my professor. He was appalled at the lack of knowledge the students had when it came to black history, me included. He made it his duty to drill valid points and explosive facts into our head so that we would never forget them. And I didn't.

What I am trying to say, in the midst of all this reminiscing from my college years, is that we have to take control over more aspects of our lives. Stop depending on others to fix it, amend it, or figure it out. Let that be your last resort.

Ian thought it was funny when I quoted Booker T. Washington awhile back. It wasn't the quote that got the laugh, it was the situation.

The washing machine was broken and we refused to purchase a new one. Cosmetically, it looked like it was in great condition and was not old at all. I immediately phoned my uncle who use to be the head of maintenance for several apartment buildings. He came took a look at it and suggested what I should do (sometimes relatives don't like to fix things for you in case something goes wrong...completely understandable).

After days of frustration, I decided to fix it myself.

I Googled like crazy until I found a forum that dealt with my issue. I grabbed the tool bag, put on a head scarf, and got down and dirty next to the washing machine. I took apart some piece inside where the motor thingy was housed. Turns out, there was tons of "stuff" stuck in there and God knows what else. On a leap and a prayer, I pieced back together the motor and gave it a try. And what do you know? It worked.

Since then, I've fixed our big screen television. The lamp inside blew. Normally it cost around $200 for the bulb alone. I found one on eBay for half the price and no labor. I took the television apart, replaced the lamp (very carefully and with protective gloves), fired it up, and it was back in action.

Just yesterday I fixed the kitchen sink. I thought we had a normal clogged drain and a simple chemical solution would do the job. Not. so. much. I had to take the pipes apart only to find out there was a massive pile-up of something. It was completely blocking the water from draining. Even though I had water everywhere and ruined my favorite pair of black leggings (don't worry, I have 10 more), I felt accomplished.

I know you're wondering, "Where's the man of the house?!" Well, for one, he works. With a new schedule, that includes a two hour commute, and 10-hour shifts, we barely see each other. Also, he knows I'm too stubborn and impatient to wait for anyone to fix my messes. So, he just let's me go for it. It not only save time, but it saves us from arguing.

Who would have thought that a simple, household maintenance situation would spark an entire post about black history? It's funny how we lean on several forms of inspiration to get the job done. Mine just happened to be Booker T. Washington.

I still have a lot to learn about my history. Something new happens everyday. I want my child, my relatives, and everyone around me to know that who we become is greatly influenced by what we do. If you are not doing anything, you probably won't become anything (as I sit on my tail writing a blog post...I love the irony).

And while I received an "A" in this class for scoring high marks on tests, quizzes, reports, and projects, I also received an education. That is better than any mark on a report card.

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