I LoVe-ar Burton
I met LeVar Burton at Florida SuperCon.
And I cried. Real ugly. Snot and all. Bad. Not a singular thug tear rolling gracefully down my cheek, but an awkward choke-sob. Bad.
I managed to be partially coherent. I did my best to form sentences in front of someone I hadn’t even realized was so important to me.
I stood in line, and it moved pretty quickly. From behind two other fans I saw his prices, and after scoffing repeatedly, I decided I would just talk to him. For free. As I opened my mouth, my eyes filled with tears.
I’d spent years worth of Saturday mornings with him. For a three-year-old that could read it was like Oprah’s Book Club. The Reading Rainbow was a weekly wish list for the literate toddler elite.
He embodied Alex Haley’s “Kunta Kinte” turned “Toby”, hosted the world’s most diverse children’s show, and starred as Geordi La Forge; Chief Engineer and Lieutenant Commander of the USS Enterprise. All at once he was the unyielding spirits of our ancestors, a buttress for our imaginations, and the ingenuity and hope of our future.
LeVar Burton was IT for me. And obviously, as evidenced by my tear-stained twenty-six-year-old face, he still is. Standing there in front of my pre-k idol, I cried unexpectedly. It snuck up on me clenching my throat and burning my eyes like an expired 4 Loko.
I loved him. I love him still. He was so effortlessly fly in his linen fit and 90s-magician jewelery. His brow wrinkled in surprise and confusion before his eyes softened. He smiled and I felt a little less like a freak. He gave me two fist bumps and a handshake.
I wish I could have said all the things that I’ve written here. I wish I would have said any of this. What I did manage to squeak out was a snotty apology peppered with mutterings about the importance of representation and Saturday morning cereal binges. What I should have said was nothing.
He encouraged us to explore our ancestry. He encouraged literacy and incredulity. He showed us that we too have a place in the stars. His show highlighted characters, authors, and children of color. He showed me, me.
I love you. Go read books!