Wednesday, November 25, 2009

In the Deep Heart’s Core (copy)

I was pulled aside before the discussion meeting on the book "In the Deep Heart's Core" by Michael Johnston. The book club member wanted to point out the specifics of the title.

First she read aloud the passage from W.B. Yeats:

"I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core."

She then followed with the quote from a Delta Native:

"If Mississippi is the heart of the Deep South,
Then the Mississippi Delta is the deep heart's core."

I agreed whole-heartedly! I would go even farther to say the South is really the heart of America! Unfortunately, there is a problem with the ole ticker. In the "deep heart's core" of Greenville lives some ugly plaque that has slowed the flow of blood to the extremities of the body of our state and our nation. People in the area have eaten a little too much racism, dined on ignorance and snacked on poverty to the point of stroke.

This is according to the book if one follows the logic. I blame no one, certainly, not the fine folks of Greenville. White flight has occurred in cities and towns all over the south and north. I am left wondering how to fix the problem. How do we place our heart on a diet and exercise routine and bring it back to a healthy pink condition?

It takes a man like author Michael Johnston to encourage a healthy lifestyle. Johnston was a fresh graduate of Yale Law School when he signed up for the Teach America program. He left his native Colorado for the south and in 1997 began teaching at Greenville High School.

In the first chapter he recalls talking to a couple of ladies while looking for a house. They asked him what he would be teaching and he told them English. This was met with a burst of laughter. One lady said, "You know that's a foreign language down here!"

He persisted and entered into the hearts of many of his students through poetry and chess. I encourage you to read this book and hand it to others. It is time we get the blood pumping.