A different world than where we come from

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John W. Fountain III

Pumpkin spiced lattes, caramel apple cider, NCAA football, new television program debuts, hoodies and boots all trigger feelings of nostalgia inside.

Autumn is my favorite season.

My Hillman College hoodie remains my preferred Saturday outerwear.

The fictitious Alma mater of Heathcliff and Claire Huxtable garnered a six-season spin-off with daughter, Denise, briefly attending the college became a symbol of hope amid summers in the 1990s.

Themes of marriage, divorce, infidelity, HIV, AIDS and homicides of old peers back home were topics commonplace to those youth coming from the inner city. Tupac Shakur and Jada Pinkett Smith’s epic dialogue in one episode pointed out how two childhood friends of the same socioeconomic status can experience different worlds.

While I spent the greater of my elementary years in the college towns of Urbana-Champaign, the bustling, bold blackness of the show symbolized a utopia during my battles with depression in Austin.

Patti LaBelle’s iconic voice over the bass drum and acoustic guitar of season 1 of “A Different World” acted as a zip code transporter to positive inclusion.

Jemele Hill’s recent piece in The Atlantic calling for black athletes to consider HBCU’s over predominantly white institutions speaks to a broader sense of psychological wellness within black people.

W.E.B. Dubois talks about blacks or African Americans being viewed through the lenses of the majority race in The Souls of Black Folk. Since the dawn of the civil war blacks have psychologically struggled with identity. This wanting to be accepted in a world that looks on with “contempt and pity” versus establishing more autonomous striving seems to echo the sentiment of my last piece that explores the key differences of field slaves and house slaves.

But what else can one expect after the emancipation of millions of slaves without mental health treatment?

If all your life you were a slave, how can you be expected to adjust to this new freedom with minimal financial assistance?

Effects of the bombing of Black Wall Street, the murders of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Hampton, Mark Clark and the sabotaging of any institution revolutionary to the fragility of white male patriarchy triggers a rarely explored version of culturally specific post-traumatic stress. These key moments subconsciously invoke inferiority and subjugation masked by fear and anger.

Therefore, we mass mourn the passing of Nipsey Hussle, keep Sandra Bland’s name on our lips and celebrate a mayor of Atlanta named Keisha.

We stay divided on R. Kelly, Bill Cosby, Colin Kaepernick, Jay Z and the NFL.

Our heads bow with every black male assassinated by police, triggering a feeling of helplessness further exacerbated by acquittals and leniency.

Many black people have not recovered from the CIA-backed crack epidemic while heroin abuse sweeps across America.

Our worlds juxtapose even among black.

Black people do not have a unified opinion of their experiences in America and as a result the debate about black athlete abandoning college coaches like Nick Saban and Jim Harbaugh or even Lovie Smith will remain fractured like “the choice of slavery.”

I still watch the NFL and I will baptize my 6-month-old son in the tradition of NCAA football Saturday mornings, but as he becomes older and starts to examine where his choices will lead, I’ll gladly recite the lyrics, “Just remember you’ve been told it’s a different world, a different world, than where you come from, than where you come from.”

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