There’s a video floating around cyberspace that captured a lot of attention when it first aired. It features a little boy named Luiz Antonio; he’s preparing to eat a meal of rice, potatoes, and octopus. He’s being videotaped by his mother and, at the time of the video, he may have been about 3, maybe 4 years old. In the video, Luiz wonders about the meat. His mother answers his questions about what the meat was before it was food. When he learns the meat was an animal, just like the animals he sees in his community, he processes his rationale for not eating the meat. His process is based on the fact that he cares about and respects the animals and sees them as wonderful. He recognizes that the flesh on his plate was once invigorated with a soul. He sees that the meat used to be alive…a living, breathing, being. In relation to that idea, Luiz says, of animals:
“I don’t like them to die. I like them to be standing up and happy. We should take care of them, not eat them.”
His statements are so simple, so kind, so clear, gentle, and powerful that his mother begins to cry. When he notices her tears, he asks an important question and draws another crucial conclusion:
Luiz: Why are you crying now?
Mother: You touched my heart.
Luiz: Then I did something beautiful.
Of course he did something beautiful. He did something extraordinarily beautiful.
He embodied, and made real, the affection, deference, and deep regard he felt in his heart for animals. He gave his love form through his words. Then, he made his love function through his commitment to the service of his words.
He did something beautiful.
When we learn this kind of simplicity, nakedness, and movement, we are loving too and we are doing something beautiful.
So, think back. Did you do something beautiful?
Of course you did.
That time your heart was broken and you cried about it with your closest friend? That was beautiful. That time you begged him to stay? That was beautiful. That time you screamed at him to leave? That was beautiful. That time you regarded a black or brown body lovingly? That was beautiful. That time you trembled before you told someone you loved them for the first time? That was beautiful. That time you hollered (or whispered) your first “No.” That was beautiful. That time you wore your confusion and nervousness on your face? That was beautiful. That time you laughed until tears came down like rivers? That was beautiful. That time you held your parents’ hand while he told you his deepest secret, not judging, not flinching, and not looking away? That was beautiful. Anytime you declared or demonstrated something generative, affirming, and actualizing (even if it came out harshly or was enacted in ways that hurt someone), that was beautiful.
The difference between your beautiful, my beautiful, and Luiz’s beautiful is acknowledgment and acceptance. Luiz saw his beauty reflected in his mother’s tears and, essentially, asked her to name it. When she said what he saw he knew it was love. He knew that his words and commitment were beautiful…were loving…love being…because his heart was moved and his mother’s heart was moved in complement. His total acceptance of this truth immediately followed his acknowledgment.
Luiz’s steps are a lesson.
When something in the world (or in yourself) moves you to think differently or feel dynamically, notice the movement. Accept that it’s real. Acknowledge its beauty. Call yourself a lover as you are being…all of you…because that’s what you are. Be sure to Get the gift I give at https://www.jeaninestaples.com to find out more.
Jeanine Staples is Associate Professor of Literacy and Language & African American Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. Her book, The Revelations of Asher: Toward Supreme Love in Self, is an endarkened, feminist, new literacies event (Peter Lang, spring 2016). In it, she explores Black women’s terror in love. She produces research-based courses and methodologies that enable marginalized girls and women to realize internal revelations that fuel external revolutions.
Dr. Staples’ next book details the evolution of her acclaimed undergraduate course, The Philadelphia Urban Seminar. In it, she explores Supreme Love in schools. She shows how she generates curriculum and methodologies that incite anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-ableist pedagogical stances among teachers interested in urban education and equity for all people in schools and society.