A Burning Whiteness

I have a gift for you my child.

It is a gift that’s only ever taken.

Never given.

I will wrap it around you like a fire but know this:

Your clothes cannot hide it.

It will always be on your hands.

When they are open – when they are fists.

This gift will bond you to everyone else with the same gift, and you will help each other when things get hard, as we have done for hundreds of years.

Do not cry when life is hard, it will never be harder than our gift allows it to be.

You will never hear the sound of a window closing or a door locking as you cross the street.

You will never walk into a boardroom and have people wonder if you’re only there because of some governmental decree.

Yes, sometimes, you will be in a car, or pulled into an office with other people with the same gift as you, and then you will all be expected to put your real cards on the table.

They will whisper and you will hear how they breathe.

You will be expected to let a mask fall to the floor, and let dark and honest air cool your real skin.

You will have special names for everyone who does not have the same special gift as you.

You will walk into a mall and the people doing the shopping will all look just like you.

You will watch movies and read books and the heroes will all look just like you.

You will join us as we tap away on our screens, using the words, “out of the bush,” and making snide, thinly-veiled jokes that we can quickly point out are jokes.

Your gift allows you to say, “Can’t you take a joke?”

Who could hate a joke?

Who could hate a gift?

You will never be casually told to “move on” from the most painful parts of your past.

 

No.

 

Your past will be remembered with gunfire at noon and somber moments of silence and statues.

This gift was your father’s father and his father’s before him and he fought and killed and he took all he could before he died.

To give this gift to me.

To give this gift to you.

He did this for you.

You won’t ever even have to think about what you have or where it comes from.

You will have the luxury of taking things for granted.

Of owning history and in turn, the future.

Of expecting these things to always be there, because they always have.

Of being owed an easy life.

People will talk of change.

You will have to say, “Yes, change is necessary.”

But you will never actually have to change anything.

Not even your mind.

You will never have to use the superiority you might claim or your education to actually experience any kind of empathy for anyone else that doesn’t share your gift.

It’s not all roses.

Maybe you will worry about how you’ll afford the rent in your home.

But you can always call me.

Or rely on the skills I have taught you.

This is the gift I have given you.

You must call out.

It will be too much of a shock if you are seen on the street with old, ragged clothes.

People will write articles and pass pictures of you around.

People will ask you what happened to you and point to you as, “An example of how bad things have really gotten.”

We will hold you up like Jesus.

Children will say, “We saw Jesus at the traffic lights!”

If that upsets you, then protest.

When you do, you will never be considered a pawn of the government, a dumb thing, not even human, with no will of its own or nothing to say, nothing more than a manipulation, a distraction from the real issues of the day, which are so much more comfortable for all of us to discuss. Your gift gives you the right to choose what you want to discuss.

When you do, your protest will never be lumped together with the protest of others who look similar to you, you will never be expected to take responsibility for something done by someone else on the other side of the country who shares only the most basic of common denominators with you.

When you do, you will never have your protest dismissed as disgusting, as if protesting was something to be done politely and quietly, as if you’d done something unthinkable at a tea party you weren’t invited to.

 

No.

 

When you protest, those around you will raise their cellphone cameras higher and higher and chant:

“THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING.

THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING.”

And we will cry at the truly noble nature of your sacrifice and your protest, we will cry over you as we would cry over some fallen, noble bird.

We will cry as your white skin is broken like porcelain.

 

No.

 

Because this is your gift.

And it is taken.

Never given.

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