Last Wednesday, Feb. 22, I was walking back to my dorm. The air was balmy and the sun was slipping beneath the red-brick buildings and behind the spindly branches of naked trees. I reminisced about my day. Eventually, my mind drifted to a thought I’ve had ever since second semester started: the sun sets differently in Ohio than it does in Virginia.
I have smacked this thought back and forth, and after several weeks I think I’m finally ready to let it fall to the ground in a crumbled heap—never to be picked up again. See, I believe that it isn’t so much that the sun sets differently in Ohio. It is more so the fact that I’ve only ever seen the sun fall under Virginia’s rolling hills, forests of pine and Blue-Ridge Mountains.
My experience of viewing the sun setting in Ohio does not negate my previous viewing of sunsets in Virginia. Similarities abound, but there are also differences. Maybe it’s the flatness of Ohio’s land, or the feeling of overwhelming vastness that rests in the sky. But the reason itself is inconsequential; I can respect the wonder of astronomical orbits regardless of where in the world I am.
And still, as I watch the sun gently descend beneath the horizon of February, the most conspicuous of months, I’m left looking at the odd smattering of color in the sky of the Buckeye-state and I feel different. Like in most places, the sun’s constant presence is taken for granted — we lambast it for its absence on cloudy days, wail at its intensity during the summer months. But for some reason, during the month of February we feel obliged to recognize the sun, we half-heartedly enumerate a few of its contributions to the world.
But despite a time of rising racial tension and instability in our society, we blindly continue the charade. I believe James Baldwin said it best when he wrote: “Try to imagine how you would feel if you woke up one morning to find the sun shining and all the stars aflame. You would be frightened because it is out of the order of nature. Any upheaval in the universe is terrifying because it so profoundly attacks one’s sense of one’s own reality.”
Is this the reason people refuse to accept the integral part the sun plays in our daily lives, our culture, our nation, our world? Is this reason people refuse to acknowledge the integral part African Americans play in society?
Regardless of the justifications given, I think it is important to remind everyone: the sun has been around since the dawn of man, and the sun will continue to shine even after February 28th.