A cricket sighting was the last thing I expected to see one warm afternoon. But, then again, I had been out looking. Sometimes while driving, I get lost on purpose. I like to get off the beaten trail, look around, and see new things. This pastime has helped me find shortcuts, try new restaurants, and even get cheap gas.
I first got lost, accidentally, after moving off campus in college. I ended up preparing and eating an organic vegan dinner with a strange bunch of hippies. They were even weird by our Berkeley, California standards. I’d never seen them before or since. Fast forward to some years later. I came across something as unexpected.
I found a cricket game in the middle of Philadelphia. Two things made the gathering extraordinary. It took place in the U.S. And, the men and women who played were dark as their uniforms were white. As I pulled over to watch, I quickly realized I had no idea how to make sense of the game. Thick bats, wooden stumps, and a strip that resembled a miniature landing pad excited me. So did seeing a pitcher and a catcher, like in baseball.
When I finally got home with wilted groceries and warm milk, I looked up cricket and read about the game. I later told people what I’d seen. I asked if anyone else had ever seen it. Thoughts and questions about cricket crowded my mind over the next few days. Then, I laughed.
I’d first encountered the unending dialog surrounding diversity in college. Every class I’d tried to enroll in during my first quarter had been full. Eventually, I got classes including one about Native American literature. It had been the only way to meet the college English requirement. That class taught me about one form of bias, segregation, and privilege after another. They all shocked me. Since, I’ve studied diversity issues, lectured and even written about them. Wide-eyed moments of my past have become quiet exhales in recognition of how slowly things change. And, although I don’t admit it, I sometimes wonder if our efforts are only about making Disney movies a reality. That is, making it ok for yellow unicorns to run around with pink instead of other yellow ones.
I laugh and I meditate
It took years, but in the days following that cricket sighting, I finally answered my question. Before then, I’d had no interest in cricket. Seeing a bunch of Black folks playing the game had an impact on me. In a sense, it had opened up my world.
The whole experience reminded me that the fight for diversity is a good one. It’s worth it for bringing about change. And, when I think about cricket to this day, I remember why I meditate