We all must maintain the cross within ourselves. It is everyone’s burden to carry it.

At the tender age of five I came to realize the reality of my situation as a young
black boy in America. I discovered that was that words did hurt; even worse than a
Sonny Liston left jab, or a Muhammad Ali overhand right. Because out of all the words
that ever existed, since the beginning of time, there was just one word, and one word
only, that would just come out of nowhere, when you would least expect it. And this
word when spoken had the power to drop me to the canvas like a “Phantom punch”.
The word Nigger, “Shook up the world.” And as I lay on my back, looking up at the sun
that seemed like glaring stadium lights, I asked myself, should I get up? Was it worth it
to keep getting my ass knocked around? The word Nigger was a much better fighter
than me, and nobody wanted me to be a man anyway. Or should I just be the Nigger
that the world wanted me to be? I had to get on my feet before the count of ten, but
when I tried to do that, my soul seemed as though it was disconnected from my body. It
was like I was having one of those out of body experiences you hear people talk about
when they die, and then come back to life. There I was, hovering over my body, looking
down at my lifeless flesh. I saw the referee, Jersey Joe Walcott, trying to get the word
Nigger to go to a neutral corner, while the time keeper counted for him
“five!…six!…seven!…” I tried to yell as loud as I could to wake myself up, “Get up you
bum!’’, but it was to no avail. Then in a flash I was back in my body…“ten!” So there I
was, laying there still on my back, feeling defeated, having lost my dignity, my courage,
questioning my self-worth, questioning whether I was worthy of love, or giving love.
Losing to Nigger that day in the playground, in front of all those fans, would
forever define me, from that day on. And force me to lose the ability to distinguish
between what it meant to be a man, and what it meant to be, “A killing machine, an
indomitable-if-evil force, a brute, condemned to a life of trouble, and a person of
questionable ways.” ( Johnny Tocco)- Amazon book “Beast: The Deconstruction of Charles ‘Sonny’ Liston”


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