My Grandmother had a funny thing about clocks. When I was growing up, all of the clocks in her house were set a few minutes ahead. Not a specific amount ahead either. They were random increments ahead. Two minutes on one, five minutes on another, etc. Therefore, you were never really sure exactly what time it was. There was a reason for this.

You see, there is a long held, and too often justified, stereotype about African-Americans in this country. That being, that we are always late. In the Black community it’s referred to as “CP Time” — Colored People’s Time. My Grandmother was not the type to ever allow herself to fall into the trap of proving such a stereotype. Thus, the clocks.

But, one may be compelled not to leave the story there but to ask why it was then that all the clocks were set early instead of exactly on time. Good question. I asked the same thing as a kid barely old enough to tell time. Here is what I learned…

She told me that, as a Black person, despite education, despite abilities, despite accomplishments… Despite the sit-ins, strikes, acts of civil and non-civil disobedience… Despite the hard work of all of those who fought and died, those jailed and bailed to be jailed again… Despite all that was done to grant us our “equality” in the eyes of the law… This equality did not exist in the eyes of man.

In fact, simply because of the color of my skin it meant that being as-good-as was not good enough. Because, that very fact made me less so in a real life comparison with someone who was not so colored. Therefore, just to be considered equal, we had to be better. It was not enough to disprove a stereotype by meeting the standard, we had to exceed it. Therefore, it was not enough to be on-time, we had to be early.

Thanks to this, today all of my clocks are just a little bit ahead.

By how much?

I have no idea.