“For the tale of how we suffer, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell; it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness.” -James Baldwin
Traveling is one of my favorite things to do. I have met and dined with people from all over the world. It is quite amazing. This trip, I have had the opportunity to meet people from Romania, Peru, Germany, England, Belize, Cameroon and Australia. What amazed me about all the conversations that I had was the fact that the first thing out of their mouths was, “So, what do you think about President Trump?” How do you tell them the real answer? “Nothing.” Without sounding like you are a smart-ass? I don’t think anything about the man because I never think about him. If his name crosses the television screen, I usually change the channel. If he shows up on any of my news feeds, I will read the first few lines and can generally tell what direction the story is going in. I never purposely think of him. I never wake up wondering what foolish thing he will do or say today, so to answer that question was challenging. I came up with a standard answer that I thought was fitting. “I think that we have a challenge on our hands with him.” This is what I said…over and over and over again. It was interesting to learn that many of the people who asked me this question were not fans of his either and pitied me for the doom that we surely face as Americans. That was funny, but not really. They were right.
I was also asked about the Black Lives Matter movement. Now, this struck me as interesting. Again, the way our Country handles its business is all out in the streets, and the shame of it has met me face to face. I am not ashamed of the Black Lives Matter movement, so let’s get that straight from the beginning. I am ashamed that in 2017 we even need a Black Lives Matter Movement. It is one of the things that I find the hardest to discuss. I don’t want to explain my pain and anger surrounding the unnecessary, unwarranted deaths of black men and women at the hands of others. What answer can I give that will be standard, appropriate and fitting? I never came up with one. When asked about what was going on in America, the only answer I could provide that seemed to be truthful was. “The same thing that has been going on for hundreds of years.” Not my best answer, but not one that would offend. It is true. For hundreds of years the world has stood by and watched the lives of Black people get snuffed out, and nothing has been done. As a writer, I want to say to them in eloquent prose what I am feeling about the things that have gone on and how they make me feel and why it is now or never to get this race thing in the United States rectified. I can’t though. I am angry about the race situation in the United States, and I am hurt, and I don’t know how to speak about it politely. One man asked me what I meant when I said the same thing that has been going on for hundreds of years. “Slavery has ended. It is not the same.” I nod, and I understand how he can say that. He is White and from another Country. He does not like my standardized answer, and that is ok. I explain to him mass incarceration and how it has affected the lives, families, and structure of the Black community. I see it. The light comes on, and I feel as though I have given him another take on what I meant with my answer. He nods. We sit in silence for a while. I am now uncomfortable because I don’t want to be the America problem tour guide. I want to know about his Country. What is the most beautiful place where you live? If I am ever blessed to be able to visit, what should I see, do and eat? Politics are politics, and they can get sticky, so let’s enjoy the time we have together because after this I will never see you again. Talk to me about the good because the bad will take care of itself.
Just when I thought it was over. When I thought that there were no more questions that I would have to answer about America and what she has or hasn’t done I get another one: “So, how do you feel about Obama being out of office?” At this point, I realize that I should have left my Black Panther, Free Huey, and I Am A Woman t-shirts at home because someone is bound to start a political conversation with me. What answer can I give to this question? I’m all torn up about it, but the way that the laws are written he can only serve two terms, so we knew it would come to an end one way or the other. We just didn’t realize that the other, would be anything like this. I think that we all thought that the other would be our first woman president. Yes, we thought that America would allow the here and now to remold her and make her great again. Instead, we got this. I love President Obama, and I am often offended when he is referred to only by his last name. He has a title, and he’s earned it. So, I start there, and I let them know that even former Presidents are still called President. Do I wish that there was something hidden deep in the United States Constitution that says that if a dumb-dumb President is elected, we can use the dumb-dumb rule and go back to the previous President for a third term? Absolutely. However, we don’t have a dumb-dumb rule like that, so there is nothing that will take us back to President Obama. The guy we have now can erase the work that President Obama has done, but he cannot erase the fact that President Obama was, in fact, President of the United States.
We, America are stuck in the repetition of racism, bigotry, and greed. If we keep it up, I will never have to worry about answering any such questions again because the rest of the world will band us from traveling to their countries under the assumption that we are all made from this racist Trump fabric of America. I have said it before, and I will say it again, This is all President George W. Bush’s fault. That is my story, and I am sticking with it.
“Healing begins where the wound was made.” – Alice Walker