April 22, 2015
(This is part of a 365 project during my 70th year where I write and illustrate a blog on each day's gift.)
After a day filled with chores, medical check-ups and scheduling further medical appointments (all routine), it was a pleasure to spend some time with Troy at New Beginnings Barbershop. His shop is not only a barbershop but an art gallery too. The purpose of our meeting today was to discuss details about the opening of a group exhibit I’ve put together with members of my photography group, Creative Exposure Baltimore.
Just five minutes away, about 1 ½ miles, a protest was happening over the death of Freddie Gray which followed his April 12 arrest. It has become yet another incident concerning white police officers and black men. Before we started talking about the exhibit, we watched live news on television showing the protesters. I kept shaking my head and thinking, It is crazy that this is happening in 2015. I was eight years old when Brown versus the Board of Education resulted in desegregated schools in 1954. I was 23 during the Baltimore race riots in 1968. I am 70 now. Why is this happening now? If anyone had told me in the 60’s that race relations would still be a problem almost half a century later, I would have told them they were crazy. Yet, I have seen white prejudice, often veiled but very much with us today.
I must remember, however, that my 365 project is about gifts. What gift did today bring? I opened a fortune cookie tonight after eating at the Szechuan Cafe near my home. My fortune read, “The time is right to make new friends.” I thought about how at Sowebo Festival (Southwest Baltimore) a few years ago, I wandered into New Beginnings where a handsome, middle-aged African American man was standing. The light from the window fell on him in a way that compelled me to take a photo. After asking him if it was okay, he smiled and said, “Sure.” This was Troy and I later sent him the photo. Since then we have been friends. I admire his love of people; I respect his vision, good sense and taste in art. The time was right then to make a new friend. It is always right. And it is time for our society to create a new beginning.
My gift today is a valued friendship in the middle of insanity.
You can find links to my other posts on this project here:http://bjschupp.blogspot.com/2014/12/365-gifts.html