Monday, January 17, 2011

Mad Is The New Black

Dr. M.L. King’s birthday is remembered today. I grew up being inspired by him; he was truly heroic. Dr. King had something almost unknown today, moral courage. He is remembered for his oratory, but I remember him for his actions – leaders lead with their feet, not their mouths.

Dr. King was long dead when I was inducted into that most despised of all minority groups, the insane. Saying goodbye to the dream of normality and hello to the hinterlands made me see him anew, and better understand his awe-inspiring bravery.

I have always battled prejudice; it touches a very sensitive nerve in me. But when it came time for me to launch my own attack against the walls of ignorance surrounding mental illness I knew I would need the same kind of moral fearlessness I’d seen in Dr. King.

I won’t say I achieved it; but I will say that, without the memory of Dr. King, I wouldn’t even have known how it’s done. If nothing else, in writing INVISIBLE DRIVING – my bipolar memoir - I gave absolutely everything I had to give, regardless of the cost.

Hopefully the poem and cartoon below will help to broaden the picture a bit for you. As Roland Kirk used to say, “I’m not bitter; I’m bittersweet.”   

Black & Blue

They can’t tell I’m white inside
They don’t see the bruise            
Black and blue
Billie’s first profession was the oldest
Long before she purred and cooed
Soft and smooth as satin
Badass Bird soared high above
Icarus-like, swooping down he
Came to rest, on a spike
Trane’s blazing fury summoned our creator 
The brief incandescence of a meteor
If genius is a blessing
It is bittersweet at best
Even in a perfect world
Where Dolphy plays the flute
A world where Billie won’t recoil
Discovering strange fruit

Alistair McHarg

Click On Image To Enlarge

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