“Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right!”: Learning From Alice Walker (How to be in the Middle)

Alice Walker’s courage is something that has always inspired me. An atheist and a womanist, I am often in the middle, even among some of my so-called family and friends. There are “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right!” Being openly atheist has put a whole new spin on my experience with social exclusion and isolation. Many feel entitled to hate or discriminate on the basis of religion, and many do not comprehend the social significance of religion, especially when it is used to uplift and fight for freedom (as opposed to a vehicle used for “personal salvation”). Neither, belief or non-belief, is without flaw and complexity. Yet, for now, I would rather be here, visibly, in the middle – atheist and womanist – than anywhere else, because the middle is the place where I have learned to be at my creative best. And this, how to be in the middle, how to accept my being in the middle, I learned to do, in part, by watching and reading the works of Alice Walker. Great film tonight about a woman who has situated her life, consistently and courageously, in the middle!

To learn more about Pratibha Parmar’s film, Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth, please go to this link (which is not mine in any way shape or form) on PBS.

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