For every thing, there is a season. Owed or not, now is not the season for my reparation. It’s the season for Trump’s expiration.
I get it; America owes me.
Call me lazy if you will. Negro, please! I built this. But so what? Since laziness didn’t cause my wounds, it cannot determine my worthiness for a bandage. Yes, I’m a victim and the perpetrator was last seen wearing red. And white. And blue.
She’ll be easy to spot. She’s arrogant. She’s cocky. She’s braggadocios. She’s loud. She’s attention seeking. She’s flashy. She’s all of the things she projects upon me to put me in my place. She may be boasting about her Constitution and its splendor. She may be wearing a blindfold holding a scale. Or perhaps she’ll be singing songs of praise to her magnificence.
I get it, so of thee, I don’t sing.
I don’t sing because for so long I couldn’t. Not because I didn’t have the ability. Negro, please! Oh I had it. But because she wouldn’t let me sing. She wouldn’t give me lessons. She wouldn’t give me books. She wouldn’t give me instruments. She thought she wasn’t giving me a chance. Yet still I sang. Yet still I rose.
I rose despite her beloved Constitution. The one she pulls out from time to time to put me in my place. That Constitution that allowed her fair-skinned children to enslave her unfair-skinned children. That Constitution that allowed me to be 3/5ths, man and 5/5ths, property. That Constitution that allowed me to be equal TO her fair-skinned children as long as I remained separate FROM her fair-skinned children.
She says she is fair and just because she is blind and all of her children are seen equally in the eyes of the law. Negro, please! That wasn’t true when I was publicly lynched yet she could somehow find no witnesses to aid in my killer’s capture, much less conviction. It wasn’t true when she engaged in a war pretextually on drugs but presumptively on me. Her fair-skinned children do as much drugs as her unfair-skinned children yet they don’t go to jail nearly as often and some even eventually get dispensaries to sell it at prices I can’t afford.
I see her red and her white and her blue and her stars and her stripes. Yet my eyes don’t get misty when she blows in the wind. Negro, please! The wind I feel and the air I breathe is not as fragrant as the wind and the air of her fair-skinned children. Birds aren’t quite as chirpy in my hood. Helicopters, yes. My air stinks. Far from a beauty, she has been a pig to me.
I get it; this is the land where my father died, too.
Yet she made me fight for her abroad and fight against her at home. Her Department of Public Health fed me syphilis and allowed me to infect my wife and unborn children. She had the cure but she chose to watch me die, painfully and slowly. She put me in my place, the ground. While selfishly expecting I show my love for her, she’s always had a funny way of showing hers for me. A card (and a shot) would have sufficed.
I get it, from sea to shining sea; this land is not my land.
Her Federal Housing Administration drew red lines around black neighborhoods in her cities and proclaimed me unfit for loans while her restrictive covenants kept me out of her green suburbs. She planted seeds of poverty and meticulously watered them as they blossomed into over-grown gardens of urban decay. She cheated me out of my foundation for wealth, home ownership. Perhaps that meticulous trickle wasn’t actually water.
I get it, for me, this is not the sweet land of liberty.
It wasn’t when I was 12 years old and in a park playing with a toy gun. It wasn’t when I was in Wal-Mart with Wal-Mart’s toy gun. It wasn’t when I was in my grandmother’s back yard with my cell phone. It wasn’t when I was a security guard with a real gun. As long as her police forces view my blackness as a de facto threat, her killings du jour will remain killings de jure.
She called me a crackhead and criminalized my addiction when she knew that fetal alcohol syndrome was a far more prevalent problem yet those culprits, mostly fair-skinned, escaped jail. She punished me 10 times harsher for crack than she punished her fair-skinned children for its metabolic equal, separate or otherwise. She treats my addictions as moral lapses worthy of public scorn and her fair-skinned children’s as societal flaws deserving of public sympathy.
I get it. I get it. I get it. America has not proven herself to be my country tis of thee. But Negro, please. Stop it with the Negro pleas.
Perhaps I am unprincipled.
Yes, but for every thing, there is a season. And owed or not, now is not reparation season. Now is expiration season. Donald Trump’s reign as president must expire on Wednesday, January 20, 2021. And every question that doesn’t aid in his expiration, aids in his continuation and by that, I cannot abide.
The answer to the question of whether America owes me is as obvious as it is non-dispositive. For now, however, I will settle for a non-racist in the Whitehouse. I will settle for someone who recognizes my humanity.
I will settle for someone who upon hearing talk of returning America to her past greatness, remembers her enslaving me and making me her indentured servant and lynching me and Jim Crowing me and segregating me and subjugating me to inferior healthcare and inferior education and inferior jobs and disallowing my home ownership and disallowing my voting rights and disproportionately arresting me and allowing her police to kill me while calling me lazy and dumb and ugly and deserving of subhuman treatment because of my unfair skin while simultaneously demanding that I love her. Negro, please!
Perhaps I am fearful.
Yes, I am fearful of asking the wrong question and getting the wrong answer. The controlling question is how do we remove a racist from the Whitehouse. How do we remove someone who believes I tarnished America’s greatness by being black? By being Mexican? By seeking political asylum? By being Muslim? By being nonwhite? Negro, please!
I fear America will continue stripping children from their parents and putting them in cages without a care or clue about how to reunite them. I fear America will continue neglecting Puerto Ricans in their water cage without a care or clue about whether they have electricity or clean water. I fear America will continue removing school breakfasts and lunches from poor schoolchildren in their urban cages without a care or clue about whether they have food at home. I fear America will continue ripping reproductive freedom from women without a care or clue about the consequences to the woman or the child. Negro, Please!
Right now, it simply does not matter how Elizabeth or Kamala or Amy or Kirsten or Bernie or Beto or Biden or Booker or Buttigieg or Julian or Larry or Curly or Moe feel about whether America owes me anything. Any of the above is far above the depths to which we’ve sunk and the depths to which our present stooge will undoubtedly further sink us.
Let’s ask about healthcare. Is the ACA, Medicare for all or a combination best? Let’s ask about education. How do we improve primary education, lower the cost of college and reduce student debt? Let’s ask about infrastructure. How do we repair our crumbling roads and bridges? Let’s ask about the environment. Do we cap and trade or do we forge a green new deal entirely? Let’s ask about criminal justice reform. Do we want to be tough on some crime or smart on all crime?
Let’s not ask about reparations. Rightly or wrongly, it scares voters away from candidates who can raise our sinking ship. Of what use is the question if it takes us farther from its realization in one form or another? Of what use is the question if it takes us closer to being put back in our place.
I get it. America owes me. But for every thing, there is a season. Now is the season for Trump’s expiration, not my reparation.
Negro, please! Stop with the Negro pleas!