Sonny Liston and Grandson Lynel Gardner both overcame racism, segregation, and prejudice to achieve their goals.


“If you imagine someone who is brave enough to withdraw all his projections, then you get an individual who is conscious of a pretty thick shadow. Such a man has saddled himself with new problems and conflicts. He has become a serious problem to himself, as he is now unable to say that they do this or that, they are wrong, and they must be fought against. He lives in the “House of the Gathering.” Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow he has done something real for the world. He has succeeded in shouldering at least an infinitesimal part of the gigantic, unsolved social problems of our day.” – Jung

“Hey, Nigger!!…”
God, why, why did you make me so ugly? What did I do to make the whole world hate me so much? Why did I have to be born black in this world?
As I stood there, weeping from the core of my soul. I wondered what in the hell was happening to me. I felt that I was possessed; by something beyond my control. But at the same time, this pain felt somewhat familiar. The words that were coming out of my mouth. They weren’t the words of a man. But they were the words of a child. It was starting to come back to me now. I remembered the very first time that I realized that I wasn’t like every other kid in the sandbox. “Does it rub off? Your hair feels funny, why are the backs of your hands black, but your palms are white?”, the other kids at recess would say. It was then, in between four square, jacks, and marbles that I was called Nigger for the very first time. The memory of it was slowly beginning to come back to me. How it felt, how I had held the pain of that emotion in my chest. How the word Nigger seemed to have the power to paralyze my entire body. That word Nigger affected me like kryptonite had affected Superman whenever he got too close to it. It seemed to destroy my strength, like when Sampson got his ponytail cut off by Delilah. I held that pain in my chest as long as I could, until I could one day wish it away. Until it would just vanish inside of me, and I would never have to see it or feel it ever again. I could do this because I had done it before with other painful emotions and memories. Because like Pinocchio, who wished that he was a real boy, I too believed that “When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, anything your heart desires, will come to you.”

“The black skin of the Negro was not only ugly, but was also the symbol of moral taint and turpitude. The Negro was the descendant of Ham, and thus accursed, and designed to be of service to his master, the white man.” – Ashley Montagu



Sonny Liston and Grandson Lynel Gardner were the Horatio Alger of their day.



One breathe, two breathe, three breathe, four. “Sometimes, people can hold on for three days”, the doctor told me. One breathe, two breathe, three breathe, four. “I don’t care what this doctors says, this is my mother, she will pass in 30 minutes.” One breathe, two breathe, three breathe, four. “If you are going to stay in the room, you cannot cry.’ Because when the dying see you crying, they will fight to stay alive.” One breathe, two breathe, three breathe, four. I told the doctor that, ”I want her to receive as much morphine as possible.’ I don’t want her to feel any pain, when she dies”. One breathe, two breathe, three breathe, four.

“Mom, remember how we used to be poor, and we had to lock the refrigerator doors, because we needed the food to last the whole week?” “Remember how the ice cream sandwiches, would always come up missing?” “Well, that was me”. One breathe, two breathe, three breathe, four. “The fridge was locked, but we figured out, that if you pulled both the refrigerator doors open.’ I could stick my skinny arm through the space, all the way to the freezer section.’ And grab the box of ice cream sandwiches.’ “Those ice cream sandwiches, fed a whole village that day.”

One breathe, two breathe, three breathe, four. “There were drawbacks though.’ Because on a bad day, my arm would get stuck in the door, and I almost lost my arm to frostbite.” One breathe, two breathe, three breathe, four. “I thought that, I’d finally reveal that unsolved family mystery.” “And”, One breathe, two breathe, three breathe, “Mom?” One breathe, two breathe, three breathe. “Mom?” “One breathe, one breathe, two breathe, gone”.

Sonny Liston and his Grandson Lynel Gardner overcame the loss of not having a father figure in their lives.


I stood by my fathers bedroom door waiting for him to wake up from his free base high…

‘Wake up, Daddy, wake up! And take me to the zoo. Wake up Daddy, wake up! Teach me how to play catch. Wake up Daddy, wake up! And help me with my homework. Wake up, Daddy, wake up! I want to ride piggyback!’

I watched my father through a crack in the door, dreaming his and my life away. Another vacation where we  would lose another chance to get to know each other. I decided that I would sit down and wait… until he woke up… and when he did we would have a talk. One of those father- son, man-to- man talks like they have on television. For three days I sat by his door watching him wake up and take a hit from his pipe and go back to sleep. It was like that pipe was the most important thing in his life!