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  • You learn a lot about America on its country roads.

  • My earliest lessons came from driving through the South with my father.

  • With mouths full of sunflower seeds, we talked about the things that made us Southern, black, and whole.

  • But life ain't always beautiful, and I learned that too.

  • One hot summer afternoon, a man with a Confederate flag license plate ran us off the road.

  • As we pulled up to a nearby gas station, just there in front of our car was Mr. Confederate Plate himself,

  • leaning like all villains do against the side of his car.

  • I remember the shouting match,

  • and Mr. Confederate Flag calling my father the one name he would never answer to

  • looking at me and saying the same, and then gesturing that he had a gun in the car.

  • I remember noticing similar flags on another truck and inside the gas station,

  • and knowing instinctively that we were not in friendly territory.

  • Vann Newkirk Sr. looked my way and said something that's always stuck with me:

  • This is who we are. Don't forget.”

  • These words often come to me: When I first heard about Tamir Rice's death at the hands of police officers;

  • when people questioned with straight faces if our president was born in America;

  • when a man who was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan,

  • had characterized Mexican immigrants asrapists,” and has promoted stop and frisk

  • was elected president.

  • Donald Trump won this election by appealing to white voters,

  • and running an unabashed campaign of bigotry, racism, and xenophobia.

  • This is the same America that killed Emmett Till

  • and the same place that gave us Jim Crow.

  • My wife and I are expecting a child sometime in April,

  • and I'm left thinking about how what's happening will affect his life.

  • One day I'm gonna look that boy in the eye and have to explain the same thing my father did to me,

  • and his grandfather to him.

  • This is who we are.

  • I know now that the wisdom of black fatherhood comes with a burden of sorrow.

  • But what I also know is that America is more than the things I fear.

  • When I remember my tears for Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown,

  • I also remember the young black protesters

  • who traveled thousands of miles in buses and cramped cars to protest in clouds of tear gas.

  • I think about the fact that the popular vote of this election

  • belongs to one of the most diverse coalitions of voters in American history.

  • That's not nothing.

  • I still have hope that with enough work and elbow grease,

  • my childdescended from slaves, slave masters, immigrants, and natives

  • will find a way to live outside the veil.

  • This is who we are.

  • It occurs to me now that his phrase was both a warning and salvation.

You learn a lot about America on its country roads.

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B1 US confederate america gas station gas black father

How Do I Explain America to My Black Son?

  • 53 1
    Seina posted on 2020/06/08
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