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Why YOU?

Professor Derrick Bell

Professor Derrick Bell

“Why does it always have to be you? Jewel Hairston Bell asked her husband. You can imagine the late Mrs. Bell dropping her head in her hands – not again – as her husband made headlines once again. Not now, she may have hoped, when life could be simpler for a while. But her husband, the esteemed, intelligent Professor Derrick Bell, took it upon himself to stand against societal diseases that still plague America today such as racism, classism and sexism. The first African-American tenured professor at Harvard Law School made loud noise in the intellectual community when he stepped down from his post just as he did when he fought for civil rights decades earlier and left his position at the Justice Department.  “I cannot continue to urge students to take risks for what they believe if I do not practice my own precepts,” declared Professor Bell.

I can only imagine that his decisions to write uncomfortable stories, quit prestigious positions, leave prominent posts to speak drove his wife to ask that question – why does it always have to be you? Perhaps just once it could have been another, I assume she asked her husband. That would certainly have made life a little easier. But not everyone is placed on this earth for “easy.” Certainly Mrs. Bell knew the answer to her own question before she asked it; she knew the man she married.

For those gifted (or burdened depending on the perspective) with a nagging idea or desire, there really isn’t a question. Prof. Bell took to controversial topics the way fish take to water, it’s just where they’re supposed to be. There’s choice in the matter, but it’s not the choice that most believe it to be. If you’re one of these people, you know exactly what I mean.

READ: Professor Derrick Bell NY Times Obituary

As Professor Bell did, you may notice a problem, situation or inequity that seems to be glaring. It seems so big that you wonder why can’t everyone see this clearly? Or you see an opportunity that most are looking over.  The choice to act narrows as you mature and soon gives way to your only options:

Mirror

See yourself.

How to act, not if. When to act, not why.

The how and when questions pop up once you’ve simply accepted that the burr in your saddle won’t go away. The itch or desire to something different, create something special or share your gifts in a unique way can’t be eliminated. Many days you may look in the mirror and wonder why you just can’t do things in the simple, expected, customary way. That might be easier. But you weren’t born for easy. Before the words even leave your mouth, the answer is always staring back at you.

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This entry was posted on 10/06/2011 by in Cup of Coffee, DOOR #3.
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