Over and over, the question we ask is “What happened to them?”, not “to us.”
We no longer speak to each other. No real conversations. The stubborn father who will never listen, never ever budge. Oh, woe is him. He doesn’t know he can shift.
We analyze his mindset, rarely question it. When we do, we keep an anthropological distance. We weigh the importance of his statement by the gravity of each syllable. Compartmentalizing cadence and a penchant for a strategic pause.
We refuse the words, the truth they hold. Not held by you or me, yet an immovable truth to them.
Understanding their truths, their stories is the sole way to expand and correct them. Some of their truths are vile and need correcting.
It’s difficult for me not to feel vindictive in my approach. I’m not alone in using such tactics, I am part of a genuine American legacy. Correctional facilities in my country correct very little.
It’s not easy to uproot your worldview. It’s not easy for my “highly–educated” ass, how in the hell would it come easily to most everyone else? You betray your privilege with your frustration with them.
Every time I’m baffled, it is a privilege not to see it coming from a mile away. I begin to realize how ghastly the whole centuries-old experiment looks in the periphery. Really realize. No longer cordoned off as characters frozen in my history textbook, a magnitude of souls emerge.
I remain a soul without obvious burden. I do not carry my traumas in my coat pocket any longer. I’ve packed them away with 7-year-old crumpled pages of the Times for safe-keeping in my attic. I’m aware of them. I do not wear them.
My burdens are psychological in nature. All my physiological needs met daily, I am still haunted. However, I am fortunate enough to realize how sturdy I am, standing above a proliferation of safety nets.
Polls are best employed with the worthy endeavor of bearing street signs. Public opinion is not something you carry around in your pocket. You discover your opinion the moment someone asks it of you.
I will not presume to understand the story of them. After they speak their piece, I vow to take a breath. I concede that every breath I take is something taken. I will respond, acknowledging the memory of who I’ve taken it from.
I may think them sick to think what they think. I must remember the vile path my genes have forged. Evil sunk deep into the creases of my two white palms.
It was someone’s downfall that lifted me onto this high horse. Those vital books that continue to shape me, printed on the corpse of someone else’s sacred tree.
I am them. I do not get to push the rural white man I despise to the margins and forsake him. I am a white woman raised in suburban comfort. He is my father, grandfather, great-great-grandfather.
He’s got layers upon layers of dried blood on his hands. I will never wash his sin off mine.
Thanks to him, I am left with a choice.
I could fold these two revolting white palms together in my lap with a sigh without accountability. I should (and will) put them to work in the service of us instead.