B1 Intermediate US 94 Folder Collection
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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 as “rapists,” 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 child—descended 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.
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How Do I Explain America to My Black Son?

94 Folder Collection
Seina published on June 8, 2020
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