I made this video last week — well, I guess a week and a half ago now. And I wanted to share it here — well, formally so, I just put it in my YouTube module at the bottom of this blog’s homepage yesterday.
Anyway, of course I scripted it. I guess it’s a poem? I don’t know. All I know is that I’d be totally down to perform(?) it at some Black History Month event this February. Is that bad? What does that make me? I don’t even usually acknowledge race as, like, a thing. But that’s a blog post for another time.
I’ve totally loved and appreciated all of the feedback the video’s received. I like that I usually only make videos when I feel that beautiful creativity surge. Even if it means posting once every two months.
But this blog’s here to fill that void. And my obnoxious Twitter account, of course.
Langston Hughes asks us, “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? OR fester like a sore—and then run? Does it stink like rotten meat or crust and sugar over—like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?”
And I’ll answer his question with another and say, “Why do dreams have to be deferred?”
I’ll define deferred as suspended or withheld until a later time, but, to me, this poem’s always made me seem like deferred meant something I’d never achieve.
I’d never snag that dream deferred.
Well, trust me, Langston Hughes, I’ve had my dreams deferred. I filled out my dream on an online application and attached some $25 with it. I mailed that dream to another city, and I waited my time and saw after much impatience that my dream had been deferred.
And I checked and checked and checked hoping my dream would be accepted, only to see that my dream had been denied.
Now, Langston Hughes, when I read the play before which your poem comes in high school, you never asked me about my dream denied. To the modern minds, deferred means postponed or delayed, but I’m not sure what it meant to you.
To me, deferred means ain’t no chance, and I’d seriously prefer my dreams not be deferred.
I mean, between tumbling at night in a cushioned mass I have dreams that aren’t deferred. I have dreams that start in the middle and end, sometimes, way too soon.
I fill my dreams up with so much imagination that is frightens me.
And when I squeeze my eyelids together I pray that my dream will not only be deferred but will be annihilated.
I’m a slave to my own imagination, and dreams frighten me with augmenting levels of intensity that those eyelids jet open and darkness sets into them.
A sigh. Seven quick heart beats. And I’m back in the middle of a dream.
Listen, Mr. Hughes, deferred and procrastination prove nearly synonymous when it comes to dreams.
Why put off a dream today when I can put it off tomorrow?
And with that, why do I even have to dream at all? Why do dreams motivate goals and why do goals motivate motivation?
In fact, give me a promise of a dream deferred, so that I don’t have to get out of bed in the morning. Give me a promise of a dream deferred, so I can sit in my bedroom, making no noise and pretending I’m not there.
I don’t think it’s that simple, and I don’t think Langston Hughes is telling us that we should have deferred dreams or current dreams.
But, Mr. Hughes, I hope I’m never a grape of a man that the sun shrivels up, causing me to temporarily house myself in a red container like everyone else.
Instead, let me be a grape of wrath, and not wrath like some envious deity, but wrath as in angry with the idea of settling.
I don’t wanna chase after anything. I want to be so far ahead of my dreams that they will have no option to defer.
So, Mr. Hughes, instead of your on-the-surface depressing and fatalistic poem, I take you up on your last lyric.
Deferred dreams always explode. They explode into who we are every day. We walk around daily pretending we know what our dreams are, but I’d argue that our dreams don’t even exist yet.
And when I finally get a deferred dream, I’ll tear off its container and put it in my coffee to make it so syrupy sweet that I consume it with fervor and pass it along with other wasteful thoughts.
Mr. Hughes, I don’t wanna waste my days dreaming if that’s what involuntarily happens to me at night.