Tale One: Horse History
© 2010 by Alice Walker
Listening to Bloodhound Bob the other day on the news talking about killing Julian Assange, Grandmother decided she needed to make her thoughts known about Julian, The Dark Knight (as someone commenting on a poem Grandmother posted on her blog calls him). Grandmother likes Julian Assange and hopes he never again dyes his gray hair. It is the sign of the fairy spirit that inhabits him, in case he didn’t know. Grandmother has gray hair too, but hers came on time, when she was already much older than Julian Assange. She likes it because it connects her to fabulous old people from childhood, her grandfather, for instance, who was so adoring and so silent, like a tree that could sit on a porch without moving, or like a mysterious wind that could plant beans. Unless something truly horrible is discovered about Julian Assange Grandmother thinks he’s fascinating. (She is unconvinced he is a rapist but is willing to wait and see how the investigation of this goes).
Bloodhound Bob comes from a long line of assassins and murderers that kept the black Southern population (and some of the white) terrorized for centuries; not a few of Grandmother’s kin ended up lynched, burned, cut up, and tossed into the muddy swamps. This is what Grandmother feels when she looks at Bloodhound Bob’s face and listens to his tone. He wants to do something like this to Julian. Is obscenity too big a word for you? It’s like: so stinky it makes you sick to your stomach even to look. But by now Grandmother can look at anything. Life, she finds, is a revolving door, and there’s always something you thought you’d never have to see again staring you in the face.
But she wants to talk to you a bit about something that might be a big help to you, later on. Truth. You may have noticed that while Bloodhound Bob and others are blaming Julian Assange and (somewhat less urgently) Bradley Manning for leaking diplomatic and other cables between the US and many countries, they have not blamed the cables themselves, for existing, even once! And this is what Grandmother wants to make sure you understand: the only blame that can legitimately be laid must lead to the doorway of Truth itself. Truth is the culprit. Truth is to be blamed. Not to do this is to fatally misunderstand the nature of Truth. Which is, Truth wants to be known; that is why Truth always leaves a record. It leaves a footprint. It leaves a mark. Always. That is why, for instance, though every trick in the book was used to cover up the soul marriage of white President Thomas Jefferson and his black enslaved partner Sally Hemming, every one of their later to be claimed non-existent children had Jefferson’s flaming red hair.
Isn’t that funny? Doesn’t it make you laugh? That is the other characteristic of Truth. It can be as horrible as you can imagine, but because it is the truth, it offers relief. Relief makes us feel better. Feeling better relaxes our faces. Smiles may occur. Guffaws.
So don’t let Bloodhound Bob and his ilk scare you. When you grow up you may decide to try to save your world. You may have to do some pretty amazing things, like find out where the Truth is kept hidden and to set it free. Grandmother will, at that point, hopefully be around to give you a horse. Not necessarily a four-legged one, but an imaginary one to ride into the fray. Julian Assange is on his horse; I think the person who called him The Dark Knight is right. He comes to us trailing odors of indiscretion, imperfection, and highly uncircumspect behavior. Still he rides to his post as guardian and protector, come whatever the heck may. He’s one of us, the motley humans, for sure.
Grandmother too, is on her horse. She’s been on her horse for a while, so long that sometimes she’s not even sure her horse is still under her. But no matter. You’ll see. When you are a bit older and a passion to exhibit your love for the world comes over you, your horse will suddenly appear beneath you.
And here’s something else about the horse: During the centuries when Bloodhound Bob’s ancestors could kill black people and the occasional white person with impunity, black people could not even talk to each other about it. And that is why when they met on the back roads of the South, with Bloodhound Bob’s people cracking whips all over them, they would say, as their mules and horses waited patiently beside or under them: Tell my horse. And the horse (or mule) is the one who received direct information about our people’s tragedies, never our people themselves.
That is what we’re here to change.
And so, my dears, Grandmother and you now share a history that connects us to our common horse. Get on. Don’t be afraid. I know it’s dark. But darkness, like truth, exists to be made visible. An old white-haired man named Jung that Grandmother likes a lot has written about this. And yes, it’s going to be a long and bumpy ride.