I remember our first date. We went to dinner at the Mayflower. He put ketchup on his hushpuppies. After our fine fried cuisine, we went to see a movie. The Lion King. There we sat, two teenagers amidst many moms and dads who had waited months to enjoy the first animated Disney film depicting African characters. I had heard the complaints about ‘why they gotta make black characters animals’. It was an absurd argument. Nevertheless, there we were Nala and Simba.
I should have read the storyline. I should have listened to the reviews. I was super excited that my father was allowing me to go on a date. I wore my brand new copper-colored polo shirt and matching skirt. It would be the only time I would wear the skirt due to sitting on gum (imagine trying to explain to my father how gum got on my butt). As soon as Mufasa got to the stampede I knew what would happen. I knew how the writer in me would have scripted the scene. I knew. The tension in his left arm told me he did too. His father had just passed. The hurt was still very real and present. He cried with Simba.
Today I read an article about a little girl named Shannon Tavarez. She portrayed Nala in the Broadway production of The Lion King. Monday afternoon, she passed away at the age of eleven. Just two years older than my first-born. My womb aches with her mother’s.
Shannon was unable to find a bone marrow match. Being biracial diminished the possibility of a perfect match being found. This is not an idea I have ever considered. I often think of the medical issues facing Blacks in disproportionate amounts and those facing Whites. It has never occurred to me that there are medical implications to being of mixed race in addition to the emotional.
I am committing to doing what I can to save the life of a biracial child by registering with DKMS as a tribute to Shannon. I am asking all of my readers, friends, relatives…and enemies (although I doubt any are reading my blog) to consider doing the same.
Shannon is a Scottish name translating to “little wise owl”. That she was.