Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA - Nubian Mirror; Boston, MA – King Speaking at Massachusetts State House
“The caged bird sings with fearful trill of the things unknown, but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill, for the caged bird sings for freedom.”
Famous words written by the infamous African-American author and poet Maya Angelou. While looking at the beautiful carving of the Nubian girl on the mirror holding that bird, one can be reminded of those very words. Wondering to yourself if you are the caged bird or the free bird. Whether you are African-American or Caucasian-American or any other type of American, you can ask yourself, are you living a caged life or a free one? However as a person of color the chances of you living the free one are slim. Eyes gazing up to the mirror itself you wonder. If you look in it, what will you see? Will you see him? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? Will you see a person of color that makes him proud? That makes him think he died for a good cause? Will the person you are today, right now, be a person he would be glad to die for? Or do you forget where you come from? Do you choose to bury your head in the sand while others suffer? Do you think “oh, it’s not my problem” as you live your Anglo-Saxon life with your Anglo-Saxon friends? Do you remember what he died for or just enjoy the day off of work in January? Being a person of color in 2018 can be difficult. You gaze in mirrors daily, hoping to see the strength of MLK, Jr., and the wisdom of Maya Angelou shining out from behind your eyes. You hope to be the free bird that thinks of nothing but “breezes, and fat worms, and writing his name on the sky.” But if you are that caged bird, the one who doesn’t remember anything more than the first few sentences of “I Have A Dream,” maybe you look in this mirror again and remember.
Demby, Gene. “How Black Americans See Discrimination.” National Public Radio, 25 Oct. 2017, https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/10/25/559015355/how-black-americans-see-discrimination.
Courtesy of the Boston Globe via Getty Images