I felt a light flowing through me. I awoke, excited, hungry to understand this immediate world, the black people around me, and how theywehad all fallen to this. Now I knew Lemmel in a fuller sense, that it was troubled because all things worth anything ultimately are. That my world, though mired in disgrace, was more honorable than anything, was more beautiful than the exotic counties way up Reisterstown and Liberty Road. All the ghettos of the world, with their merchant vultures, wig stores, sidewalk sales, sub shops, fake gold, bastard boys, and wandering girls, were my only home. That was Knowledge and Consciousness joined, and when I grabbed the mic, that was the alchemy I brought forth. When I was done, I emerged taller, my voice was deeper, my arms were bigger, ancestors walked with me, and there in my hands, behold, Shango's glowing axe.
This essay is adapted from Ta-Nehisi Coates' The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, copyright Ta-Nehisi Coates 2008. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Spiegel & Grau.
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