So in the midst of many discussions about Mike Brown and Ferguson, Missouri on Facebook, a friend of mine from Iceland posted a link to this article. And I want so badly to disavow her of this notion.
America doesn’t care about the color of my skin. America doesn’t care that I’m black.
What America is concerned about is how much we share in common. I listen to Ryan Adams and dig pimento cheese and craft beer, and that’s alright by America. I commute 15 miles to and from work in a Volvo that requires 93 octane fuel, and that’s good for America (and the economy). I have a full-time, salaried position and I’m a generous tipper, to a fault. But let’s face it: if I had a Confederate or a United States flag on my car to replace the Grateful Dead sticker from the previous owner, America would like me a whole lot better.
We could be besties, if America didn’t have to remind me, after six months of my not caring very much, that my haircut was turning into a bit of an Afro. What would American clients think about that?
America has this burning desire to ask me about my black hoodie, too. Let me enunciate clearly, America: I’m not concealing any weapons or a desire to do you malice. The simple truth is that I don’t own an umbrella, but I won’t tell you if it’s due to the fact that I can’t afford one or that I find umbrellas cumbersome. My hoodie is comfortable, stylish and serves a number of purposes.
I prefer soccer to football. I talk to the contractors from India at work, even though America is convinced they’re stealing our jobs. I try to communicate in broken Spanish to the people who clean up behind me, ashamedly, since my last name is more Latino than I am. I think borders are a farce, which is akin to wanting to consort with Russia.
I enjoy the relatively clean, free air that America offers! I really do! But America gets upset when I try to vocalize dissent on Sunday afternoons walking down King Street with all of the other Americans. It’s as if she’s trying to say, “Be free! But please keep your voice down and your freedom to yourself, we’re trying to have a good time and you’re interfering.”
I am also an atheist, which befuddles America to no end. I don’t wear black or carve pentagrams into my wrists. I don’t sneer at Christians or have horns sticking out of my head. I try hard to follow the virtues of honesty and forthrightness. Yet America equivocates my non-belief with the moral degradation of all of society. I am the reason everything’s so fucked up. It’s me.
If I could live on the other side of the bridge, America could be a little less afraid of me. If I could be not so big and scary looking, America, I just know you’d like me more. And if my skin weren’t so black, America…