To Sidney, with Love
Posted by Allison
I was first introduced to Mr. Poitier when I was 12 years old. I had just moved to America from Trinidad and was fascinated with all-night television. … All night was great, but it quickly brought me to the realization that I was a minority. There were not many blacks on television, so I was so excited to see my first Poitier movie, A Patch of Blue. I was so impressed with him. Seeing him in such a role, a black man in a lead role of a movie is really what I needed to maintain my confidence in this new world. His confidence on the screen resonated in me. The more I learned about him, the more proud I became to be a black girl in America. I felt such a connection to him because we were both from the Caribbean. When I read his book, I felt more connected to him; learning about his life in Cat Island reminded me of my earlier years in Trinidad.
Fast forward to my adult life. I am still finding connections to Mr. Poitier. Three years ago I was pregnant and quickly decided that I wanted to name my child Sidney. My husband, who is from Kenya, did not share my sentiment. We finally agreed that if it was a boy we would name him Anthony after my husband, and if it was a girl she would be named Sidney. When we found we were having a boy, I kept trying to work on my husband to change his mind. Then my mother-in-law came to visit that Easter. The night she came we watched a Poitier movie I had never seen before called Something of Value. The irony of the movie was that it was based in Kenya and Mr. Poitier portrayed a Kenyan warrior named Kimani, which is my husband's family name. I, of course, told my husband that this was a sign. He did not fall for it. Finally, I had to get myself hospitalized at 21-weeks pregnant and was told that I would have to be there flat on my back until I delivered. After a few days in the hospital, I took advantage of my condition and my husband's desire to do anything to make me feel good and got him to agree to name our son Sidney. Our Sidney ended up being born at 25 weeks. The final coincidence, which, of course, you know from reading The Measure of a Man was that Mr. Poitier was also a preemie.