Don’t try to escape your past, instead reflect on it and chase towards the future

In literature, the word “epigraph” takes a huge part in introducing and setting important themes that take part in a book or other manuscripts. Epigraphs are most commonly in the form of a short sentence or sentences that can also be seen or interpreted as a metaphor. Although it is technically a short sentence or set of sentences introduced towards the beginning of the book, they can also appear in any part of the book due to the fact that they also tend to have very carefully chosen words that summarizes the theme or set of themes that the reader will encounter as they read through the book which puts the reader to think about what that sentence may mean and how it will apply to what they are reading. An example of how we see this take place is in the novel “Song of Solomon” where the author, Toni Morrison makes her own epigraph to basically set what type of themes she is trying to set which can also be seen in many ways. Thus, enhancing the idea that epigraphs can be interpreted as more than one idea. The epigraph that is present in this novel is, “You can’t fly on off and leave a body”. Although the quote wasn’t really set in the beginning of the novel, it is definitely a perfect way of exemplifying and displaying the theme of “flight”. The term “flight” can be used to describe one of many things, examples include fleeing a situation where you or someone else can be in danger, or it can be just a way of executing an escape from something. Therefore, it is with the term “flight” that I want to focus on when I reflect on myself because even though at one point in my life, I happened to “escape” my dad due to unsafe circumstances and find refuge in a shelter, experiencing what it was like being in that shelter (and many others), I realized that even then I couldn’t run off from history because of all the people in the shelter who happened to have similar experiences like mine.

In regards to history, we can all agree that many people of color had the hardest times growing up as they experienced hatred, discrimination and violence at very young age. Things like this are what leads to very traumatizing things that, in a way, shape how the person grows up thinking. Unlike many fortunate people, I also didn’t really have “the perfect childhood”. My childhood consisted of many things that have scarred and traumatized me in ways that a kid shouldn’t have to experience during the “best times” of their lives. Regardless of these very dark times, I have learned and encountered many things that I probably would’ve learned in my teenage/adulting years. To elaborate a very long story short, there was one point in my childhood where my mom, my older brother and I had to escape my dad due to unsafe circumstances (meaning that my dad was a threat at the time) and we had to go through this whole process of getting into a shelter where we could feel more “safe” while we find another place to live. Even then as a kid (as young as 9-10) I couldn’t help but notice how many more people of color there were other than white people. Based on the quote “From Here to Equality”, on page 29, states “So while there were sharp differences in the black and white perceptions of the role of societal factors in perpetuating racial economic inequality, there was a sharp convergence on the role of alleged cultural-behavioral factors.” Being someone who has experienced what it’s like to live in 3 different shelters, this quote can basically summarize what it was like for me when I lived in these shelters. There were a lot of assumptions that went around people as to the reason why they were there in the first place without knowing what their story was. It was really hard to live in such an environment because I was really scared of who to trust and since I was a little girl at the time it just made it even worse.

Even as a kid I have grown up in a very “messy” household, accounting that my mom and dad both had completely different sets of opinions and ideologies among certain aspects of life. One of the main ones was about people of different races. This was a very controversial topic for my dad because he conspicuously did not hide his racist opinions and his stereotypes of different races and always thought bad of people regardless. But one of the main things he had a problem with were black people. He used to be (yeah, used to be) very racist towards them because he would always make assumptions and make a comment about every little thing they did. When I think about what my dad had said about people of the black community, it made me think about what the quote from “From Here to Equality ” was actually trying to say. I was under the influence of the words from the person I looked up to, I ended up being the “victim” of those ideas and it influenced me on what I tend to hold as my values for a long time even though I knew in my heart that it was wrong. Which brings me back to this quote from “Song of Solomon” on page 55 which states “Let me tell you right now the one important thing you will ever need to know: Own things. And let the things you own own other things. Then you’ll own yourself and other people too.” This quote makes me realize that in order to be perceived as someone who actually takes into consideration the life of others, I need to realize that I have my own thoughts to think about. I have always followed these toxic ideas from my dad to make him happy, but in the end it wasn’t making me happy. It was time for me to take charge and own my personal beliefs and live up to them without having to satisfy or have another person choose for me.

From my perspective, seeing these people in the shelter get discriminated against due to the circumstance of their background, skin color and many other stereotypes that have followed them for many many years, makes me reflect on everything that I have disregarded in my life. And because of these circumstances, since my family was not economically stable at the time along with many other people in the shelter(s). Which brings me to the quote Macon’s daughter Lena said in “Song of Solomon” on page 33 in which she states “What for? Those are white people’s houses,–Who’s gonna be living in them? There are no colored people who can afford to have two houses,” As for Lena, she gave me the idea that because I am not in the best financial situation, I shouldn’t expect much of obtaining necessities because I am a minority. I did not have the best opportunities compared to those people of higher class and things that I never got the chance to do. But it is because of these missed opportunities that I have learned and achieved things that someone of higher class would have never been able to understand. I live by these lessons of my childhood because they made me the person I am today.

Which is why I want to close this reflection with an acknowledgement that will help me improve my knowledge and understanding of the real issues that are happening in the world. In acknowledging these injustices, there could be change in many aspects of society. We are living in a generation where the voices of the people who have been silenced for so long take their chance and speak their voice, including me. The way I have never really focused on myself to explain how much these things actually affected me can also mean that I was also affected by the racial injustices because of still existing systemic racism but I never really acknowledged it. And yes, I can see things from other people’s perspectives, but what is most important is to see these truths through my own eyes as well so that I don’t have to fully depend on other people to have my own way of thinking. It is because I have started to think for myself that I have come more independent and started focusing more on myself than to have mentioned everyone in general. In the end it’s like I have come to say–don’t overthink to think for others when I can overthink to think for myself.

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