The Black Reed!

by Juan Antonio Cordova


We grow amongst the various tall grasses but we have a slender and often prominently jointed stems that grow in in wet areas. !Behold, Iím a reed!

What do you see? A symbol of manís fragility, weakness and Instability. And if you are part of the human race, you too are A reed. Everyone is a reed. Some are white reeds and others Are yellow. Iím a black reed. Does it offend you that I made My identity Known? I grow in the same marshes as others. I live and die as other reeds. Iíve noticed that when I was a Small reed sprouting out of the ground, the other reeds around Me paid me no mind at all. We all absorbed the same nutrients From the soil; warmed by the same sun rays and we all bent When the wind blew. Occasionally, some of us became nest Material to the birds of the fields.

But I had to grow the same as the other reeds. And it Happen. Suddenly and mysteriously my color became an Offence to all my childhood reeds. I know not why; but It happened.Some reed cried;wanting to be plucked out and planted In another terrain. We were like a group of ethnically diverse Children playing happily in their school yard oblivious To race, age and social status. Ironic, Isnít it? I, the black reed Should be singled out. Perhaps, this explains in part,my sometimes Hostile disposition. Oh no, Iím not trying to justify my shortcomings. Iím only wondering, you know; day dreaming.

I will like to remind you that I did not choose to be a black reed. I was born one. In passing, may I inquire? Did you choose to be A white or yellow reed? I didnít think so. Unwillingly , I became The proverbial ďfly that has spoiled the ointmentĒ; the ďrotten Apple spoiling the bunchĒ.

Yes, I recall the time when my ancestors were brought To the American shores shackled like cattle and sold As an object to the highest bidder. Please forgive me. I rather change the subject. The warmth of my tears Are irritating my eyes as I write.

ďSuch is lifeĒ, I heard someone say. No, it ought not be so. Please, I ask your forgiveness again but allow me to ask you A few questions burning in my heart. How would you like to be stereotyped from the day of your birth To the day of your death? How would you feel If other reeds in the marsh considered You less intelligent?

How would you like to have the same job qualifications As other reeds and be turned down again and again? How about been steered into another part of the neighbor Hood by other reeds because they donít want you near them? How would you feel if you had to be constantly on the defense? Why do I read this statement on every job application: ďPursuant to all applicable Federal and Sate laws and regulations, we do not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, age, national origin, or sexĒ; and then Iím constantly filling complaints in the E.E.O office because someone else, sometimes less qualify obtained the promotion I eagerly sought? Why? Yes, why? And lastly, why must I be the one always Asking why? Please forgive me for the last time. I submit To you that this is so because Iím the black reed in the marsh.


The Black Reed by Juan Antonio Cordova

© Copyright 2000. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.


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