Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate July 2001

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Duringmy junior year in high school, in 1980, i had a mystical revelation. one day while i was wlking down the hall from one class to another, by myself, as usual, it suddenly dawned on me that it was all right to be who i was.

The thought just came to me:"Hey, you're all right. Everything is all right." The idea was hardly earthshaking, but i was a different person by the time I reached the end of the hall. Had I been methodical i would I would have immediately written down my thoughts. Over and over again I received the idea that everything was all right about me- so vividly that the thought seemed to have colors on it. I remember looking around in class to make sure the other kids didn't think I was acting strange.

Those momemts in the hall are the closest I've come to a religious experience.

For all i know, it may have actually been one. A warm feeling fell on me out of nowhere. I wondered why the idea hadn't occurred to me before; evrything seemed to fall into place, the way it does for a kid when he first understands simple multiplication.

Everybody remembers the "Aha!" sensation when a good idea hits you. I remember sitting in a logic class at the University of South Alabama, puzzling over something the priest had been explaining to us for the previous few days. Then it came to me. Bells went off; the mental pleasure was so great that I jumped as if someone had pinced me and yelled "Hey!" The priest said," Congratulations, Mr Mlusu. You have just had your first real and complete thought. How does it feel?" He was patronizing me, but i didn't care because ha had just given me a new way of seeing things.

What I saw in the hallway at high school that day was more than just an idea, it was a way out of self-rejection. In the ours years since my since my good friend Kondwani had died, everybidy I encountered felt that there was something wrong with me. Worse, I agreed with them. I was clumsly at everything. When I opened a soup can, it felt as if i ws trying to take apart a watch with a sledgehammer. I was insulted all the time. At my first and only football practice the coach lined up players to run over me all afternoon, and the complained to the team that he'd goten the " bum of the family" instead of my brother, who was a star football player at a rival high school. I dropped football, swallowed my pride and went out for the cheerleading team. I didn't even make that. I was the classic ninety-pound weakling--except that nobody would have have dreamed of using my picture in an advertisement.

The white cops in Oakland stopped me on the streets all the time, grilled me and routinely called me "nigger." Whenever they said it, it put me it such a state I would shrivel up inside and think, "Oh, God. They are right." I gave everybody the benefit of the doubt- friends who ignored me, strangers who were mean- because i thought they were probably justified.

All this changed after the trip down the hall.