In which Frank J. Tassone of the d’Verse Poets Pub invites us to post 144 words of prose inspired by Maya Angelou’s, On the Pulse of Morning, in particularly the line, “The Rock cries out to us today, You may stand upon me, But do not hide your face.”
I spent tenth grade attending Waipahu High in Hawaii. Most of my classmates’ faces bore Polynesian or Asian features. At first, they all looked confusingly similar, but I soon learned to distinguish individual attributes. I didn’t notice my change in perception until returning “stateside” when, for a few disorienting moments, all white faces looked the same. The experience affected me profoundly, underscoring other lessons I learned about being on the brunt end of racism. Maya Angelou’s words, “But do not hide your face,” remind me how easy it is to refuse to see the reality of other people; to blank them out with our own misconceptions. But also, how often we hide inside our own cultural identities for fear of not belonging. At Waipahu neither locals nor haoles tolerated cross-cultural interaction, the ban worked both ways with consequences for disobedience heavy on either side.