I hope you are all having an excellent beginning of Fall semester, that your projects in life are going well and that you still have a smile on your face.
Do you know why I call you munchkins? Well, Munchkins are the little people living in the town of Oz, the city first mentioned by the author L. Frank Baum in his book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”. Anyways, the munchkins were terrorized by the Wicked Witch of the West, who gets to have a story and a name in the musical comedy “Wicked.” Right now, you might feel like I am bombarding you with cultural references or information, but I have a point to all of this.
So, Elphaba, mostly known as the Wicked witch of the West, with her green skin color and her ability to read magical spells, grew up in an environment where she was confined to be seen as the bad guy or the person who is different from the rest of the world because of how she looked. Growing with a father that shamed her for being the way she is, she hid in the shadow of her little sister and in the shadow of herself, which is a deep analogy. Later, she meets Glinda, a beautiful and young promising student in the world of magic, who is automatically repulsed by the appearance of Elphaba. They develop a hatred for each other’s personalities, only by what they see, hear, and know. An event comes where the two characters realize that the only thing separating them from being friends are their prejudices and stereotypes. Once they assess that there is more to their persons than what they’ve perceived, greatness and love grow among the two females. They acknowledge the feelings, the emotions, the background stories of their realities. They support one another in their quest for truth and justice among the people living in the land of Oz; they do not let the unknown cloud their judgment. Also, they seek for the greater good, even if it means to break down barriers and go against the “untold rules” of their society.
Now that you have a little background story of the musical Wicked, you will understand the analogy that I will make in a few lines. To give you a short background story on me, I am studying in English literature. I get to explore any form of literature around the world, from the Caribbean to Asia, to America and Africa, and even from Australia to Canada. Through it, history and chronological events are explored in many aspects, whether it is during the colonialism of the African continent or after (postcolonialism) or during the American Revolution; different authors write about their stories and their culture. Here is another information on me; I am an African descendant, born and raised in a Western country. Having this information, how do you think that it forged me?
I grew up with Western values, beliefs, and customs, even though both my parents are very African. It shaped my thought process and knowledge to be the same as my very own people. Now, what follows may be delicate for some people, but it is what it is. My thoughts and beliefs were and are shaped with White-eyes. What I think, see and hear is based on the environment in which I live in, which is completely Occidental. It is not a bad thing, at all, but it has its downfall. My point is that reading literature coming from elsewhere than the realm of Canada and the United States of America; I started to assess the voice of others through an eye that I did not dare to open.
We are more or so 8 billion human beings living, breathing, sharing the same planet. How come some are overpowered compared to others? How come some are richer culturally in terms of music, or knowledge, or accessibility to faster Internet? How come one side of the story is always told but never the other? Let me give you an example. In Canada, we keep hearing about all the injustice that has been administrated to the First Nations. How many of us, whether you are Canadian or not, have read books written by an actual Indigenous person telling his own story? Don’t we read about their conditions by historians or people who study their situation? How many of us have read a book about an African American relating numerous facts about slavery instead of reading it by the knowledge of an American “who knows on the subject”? How many of us have read books about Africans, the First Nations of Australia, Indians, Caribbean, and others who have been colonized by the British Empire? How many of us, and I include myself into this, take the time to ACKNOWLEDGE that there is more to life than the comfort of our own houses? This is were Glinda and Elphaba enter
You see, both women were confided in their reality until they reached out. Doing so, they came to understand that nothing differs between them. You see, the reality is that as human beings, we all have a soul that is living in a human body given to us by the genetics of our parents. However, the physical appearance that I, you, we have does not determine who we are inside, but we have the chance to exteriorize who we are throughout our actions, our way of thinking, our way of opening our minds to broader horizons, horizons we did not think exist. It may sound cheesy, but it allows you to add more love and compassion, understanding and wisdom to the knowledge you have into your life baggage. We have this one life to live and we can either decide to live it in our small cocoons and imagine what life is or what it means, or we can go outside, spread our wings and soar throughout the world to learn different meanings, different languages, activities, food, etc.
I really want to go deeper into my writing and write a thesis on why we need to read more or why we need to open ourselves to the ones around us, but I will keep that for another time. What I can do now is ask you to be Bold with a capital B. Take a leap of faith and dive yourself into an endless pit of knowledge. Learn something new about the world and about yourself, ask questions, do not demean yourself to what the world may think of you because of how you look, but show to the world what kind of soul you are by taking actions into your own hands. In the end, no one will judge you for that. If they do, it is there loss. If you take a chance on the world and what it has to offer, it will broaden your attitude and perception in a way where you will only reach for the top, and that is what I want for you: To become a better version of yourself in body, soul and spirit.
With all my love my favorite munchkins,