“Something is holding me back
Is it because I’m black?”
“Hurry up. Hurry up!” the middle-aged White man called to his four or five-year-old daughter. Oblivious, she kept waltzing slowly behind him. So he raised the stakes: “Hurry up—before you get kidnapped!” And on cue, she raced into his arms.
This happened, last Saturday—and I was the potential kidnapper.
Perhaps he’d just screened Birth of a Nation the night before, and Griffith’s masterpiece had left a stain on his consciousness; so he knew among other interests young Black men held one highest: the snatching and defiling of White flowers. Or perhaps he’d overdosed on nightly news, which never relents in keeping the nation ever alert against the criminal proclivities of Black youth. Whatever his poison, he’d saved enough for his daughter to swallow.
She would grow up taught well the dangers of people who don’t look like her, how she must stay far away from them, cross the street when they’re passing by on dark evenings; she would learn how to look the other way so as not to make eye contact with any of them, how to hold a mace tight if ever approached for, say, directions. And much wouldn’t make sense at first, but over time she’ll know that her daddy loves her, and he means best, and wouldn’t stress these concerns if they weren’t real. She would grow up part of a society that still believes Black men are criminals by default.
And so would Malia and Sasha Obama, the two daughters of the nation’s first Black president, who was hauled out last Wednesday to silence millions of his citizens, Republican and Democrat, who’ve believed all along, holding firm this convictions for three years—that he most likely lacks the qualifications to be president: that, somehow, he’d gamed the system and passed as a natural-born citizen. They must find strange a society that swiftly patted itself three years back for tolerating a “post-racial” candidate who spoke against divisions, remembrances, and regressions, and dreamt of a colorless utopia where rising tides lift all boats. They would try unsuccessfully to justify why their father, like none of his predecessors, had to come out a second time, or ever at all, and post photocopies of his papers to document his 3/5th humanity and prove he wasn’t perpetrating some elaborate fraud.