You Are A Hero

Did you ever know you are my hero? This verse from the song Wind Beneath My Wings written by Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley in 1982 and popularized by diva singers Bette Midler and Patti LaBelle should be the success anthem.

Knowing that you have heroes in your life and that you are or can be a hero to someone else is POWER! This kind of power is priceless, beyond the materialism that comes when you buy something for someone and then wash your hands, thinking that is enough. Hero power is beyond sentiment, where you randomly mouth how are you? and expect all is fine so you move on without interest in the other person.
Heroes don’t wear capes, but they stand up, speak up and dress up the wounds of others. Patrick Mayer is a hero. He created the company Wheelblades to simplify snow travel, though he himself is a quadriplegic and wheel-chair bound. Mayer says, “I am convinced that Wheeblades don’t just assist you but also bring you a lot of joy.”

Heroes bring joy. In spite of her personal pain from childhood cancer and the harsh treatments, Alexandra “Alex” Scott (1996-2004), then 4-years old in the year 2000, told her family she wanted to hold a lemonade stand to raise money to help find a cure for all children with cancer. Since Alex manned that first stand, the Foundation bearing her name has evolved into a national fundraising movement, complete with thousands of supporters across the country carrying on her legacy of joy and hope.

Heroes shrug fame or fatuousness, instead preferring to say, “I had to do something.” This world is full of people who do extraordinary things to serve and care for others without the grandiose glare of the media. You are a hero when you wipe up a spill on the floor in a public place that might injure someone. You are a hero when you stop someone from using sexist or racist remarks that degrade other people. You are a hero when you say thank you in your own powerful way.

These seemingly small acts of kindness, generosity and selflessness spring from the soul of heroes. Dr. Zimbardo, in John Quiones book Heroes Among Us, believes we can all build our “heroic imagination” by imagining heroic scenarios and figuring out how you would react; how you can be a hero to somebody. You can cultivate heroic genes, you can anticipate what would you do if ….

Quiones’ quest to find everyday goodness from common “heroes” stem from the hit primetime ABC television series, What Would You Do? that he hosts.  This is a pivotal question, what will you do? How will you help?

“Nothing liberates our greatness than the desire to help.” ~Marianne Williamson

There are heroes among us, YOU!

Don’t Stereotype

We are so bombarded with negative images and commentary about young Black males that it takes effort to counteract the constant news flashes of them in chains before a judge or being loaded in a police car.

I am taking the effort tonight to tell my story. Last night after a horrendous flight on Delta Airlines from Chicago to Atlanta I struggled to walk to get to my car in the parking lot. Many people walked right by me without even a glance of concern (where was ABC’s John Quionnes for this one?) but two young Black males helped me not only get on the escalator but also ran ahead to catch my bag which I had thrown on earlier.

Now if I had just looked at their dress or age group or race I would have expected them to pass me by too, but they did not. These young men stopped and helped and then went on their way. It felt so natural; I believe their parents taught them respect and manners.

Even though they wore the baseball cap and were not spiffy in their dress, they defied stereotype hype and helped me just like a caring gentle-man would. I owe it to them to say “thank you.”

Instead of bending to fear based on stereotypes, I willingly accepted their help.

There is a story circulating around about a women who won a big jackpot in Las Vegas. She decided to take her winnings to her room, but as she entered the elevator there stood two tall Black males and one said “hit the floor.” The white woman fearing for her safety fell down and lost all of her coins while the men laughed uncontrollably. After the elevator door opened they helped her pick up her coins and put them back in her bucket while still laughing hysterically as they went down the hall to their room. The next morning the woman received a humongous bunch of roses with a hundred dollar bill attached to each rose with a note, “Thanks for the best laugh we have ever had. Signed Eddie Murphy and Michael Jordan.”

Don’t stereotype – there are so many good young Black men in this world that are overlooked in the media and in our communities. Praise them and let’s change this violent mass image that we often see and read about.

Send in your comments and positive stories about Black youth and Black men.

I am  not denying that there is an epidemic of crime committed by young Black males. What I am saying is that we should not typecast every person in that classification as thugs. I do not and nor should you.

Recommended Reading: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (The New Press:2010)  by Michelle Alexander.