What if it was more than an accent.
What if southern meant different color.
Dark brown bourbon skin.
Patch of red on the back of the head somewhere low about the neck.
Living up north like a sore thumb blends into a hand.
People can’t stand anything that reminds them of an experience they lack.
Prideful ignorance. Whole islands of sand to bury your head.
We call it rural America.
Main Street U.S.A.
See some places are places you go.
But a small town town is somewhere you stayed.
If my skin were different, not just my legato accent.
Not just my laid back, get to it tomorrow disposition.
But a different pigmentation in my skin.
Not even a totally different color.
Even just a slightly darker tinge.
What a question that is. How many people in this country
have not traveled enough to at some point in time been the minority.
For any reason at all. Big or small. Voice or opinion or skin color or sexual preference.
Or me. A southerner. Up north. Learning what all those boys
killing each other during the civil war
learned once they got up close. We’re not so different
as our representatives would like us to be.
The greatest unspoken fear of every political career
is that all us people ever get on the same team.
Which happens the moment our eyes really open.
Otherwise, America will live and die
no more than a dream.
If I reach the end of my life, and find my greatest sin was being white, what then?
Will I explain to God how it was part of being American?
It was an entrenched system.
It had more to do with inheritance than with decisions.
I care so little for the color of skin. But the weight of true sin,
that is a burden like no other. An anchor on a ship built to circle the world.
And if you never learn to recognize it, you never leave the harbor.
Too heavy to push off from this morbid coil, this meal we let spoil
into redemption soil, inherited toil, this life effort into death comfort, into oceans.
History so heavy it drags bottom. Measures how far we’ve not gotten.
Shows us the depth we are all so eager to stay on top of.
It makes for an awkward discussion, but the perfect poem.
Seeing society cripple itself so that it favors one leg over the other.
White people who are really beige, offwhite, often pink, rarely really white,
fostering fear and weakness and feigned innocence so that disparity
can be dropped like an anchor and stop progress pushing in the wind.
We all see round sails and current lines and a horizons frowning
they are so anxious to be pushed back further.
Yet we do not draw it up to drip above the water,
so our past has become a permanent tether.
We know history can not go away, but while we refuse to carry it,
at least we know where we stay. White in the United States.
But ships are not meant to stay anchored.
I am confident we were not either.
And I refuse to let my greatest sin be living complacently in white America.
I don’t know what afterlife waits for white Americans.
Though I am doubtful it will be a white heaven.
I am almost ready to express where I am with the recent election. This nation is divided. But not accidentally or happenstance. It is split up like a stump into a pile of firewood. Conservative wedge. Democratic hammer. People forced to, out of unending, choose between two.
Blame, ironically, is also a two party system. There are over three hundred million people in America. And a couple of privately operated, independent entities, convinced us to choose between two of them. What were true blue, lifelong Democrats supposed to do? How about Republicans, when every other option that ran ran off on them, clearing space for the saggy face of unmerited ego.
Blaming anyone for the direction in which they cast their fishing line last week is unfair, it’s misguided, and entirely intentional. Not a single one of us chose this fishing hole. And I can’t help but feel somebody knew it would come with a catch.
The men who founded this country were not enlightened so much as frightened by the prospect of democracy. It was really less a message of power for the people than it was about too much power for a king. They used democracy like a worm on a hook to catch the unending career opportunities offered up by republics. They did not know the celebrity culture that would take hold after just a few short centuries. The system they invented was like a cast put on the leg we busted trying to get out of the Great Britain bear trap. But it has become the clearest path to kingship left in America. And our celebrity culture has evolved into its own isolated form of incestual monarchy. What happened last week was just a sneak peek of what the future holds for elections in this country.
It is getting so difficult to hear arguments for representative solutions to apply to authenticated issues, over the sound of the phone in my pocket screaming how democracy is more possible today than ever before.
But to the people who made governing people into careers, democracy was never the goal. It is their greatest fear.