The Chicken Bag
For the past 3 ½ months my commute encompasses frequent trips to my mother’s home in Maryland. It’s better for her to be near me while she recovers from illness, so, I’ve become very familiar with the I-95 corridor. However, the one spot that causes me anguish is when I hit Rising Sun. On the east side of the highway there is a cherry-picker whose basket extends high above the tree line, and, fluttering off its basket is a confederate flag. It’s there all the time, at least, I think it’s there all the time; it’s certainly there whenever I drive past, so, I assume it’s there 24/7 as a reminder that I am still below the Mason-Dixon demarcation and there is no place for me, even when traveling up and down the highway, the presence of a threat’s always there; there’s just no place, no safe place in which I can travel, because, at any moment terror happens. I always make extra sure the car can make the trip, fearing breaking down on the highway as I seen quite a few, but in particular, I always make sure I can make the trip during daytime. That flag stands as a reminder that, somehow, I am an obstruction to some American utopian greatness, that utopia, minus the understanding that if it could ever be achieved, was attainable because of the sacrifices of Black, brown, red and yellow peoples across time. That flag always returns me to my childhood where when in preparation for roadtrips my mother or grandmother or some other matriarch would prepare food, usually fried chicken. I am not good at frying chicken, yet, these women fried as easily as boiling water. I grew to hate that greasy grocery bag, its contents of coagulated drumsticks, breasts, but, never enough thighs. It never resembled anything near the color-saturated TV commercials that advertised the fast food road stops we would drive by. Those commercials always portrayed folks eating opulent hamburgers and golden fries. Of course, those folks were white and those places didn’t serve me, or, of the one or two that did, we always had to be on the lookout for some fool that took offense to our wanting a roadside hamburger or even to use a public bathroom, hence, the chicken bag.
I’m anxious when I’m wearing the noose, my paranoia is heightened. When walking I check the city blocks ahead of me, while, being hyper aware of my surroundings; I feel exposed, but also imposing. Most just ignore me, which is fine by me, but, when they don’t, the approach, so far, has been cordial and curious, but, I know there will be one, there’s always one, or three that will challenge what I’m doing, not really considering the irony of their actions. That flag says I have no place, no future. And I have to admit, I’m scared. But then I think about Tess Asplund (http://beforeitsnews.com/terrorism/2016/05/the-moment-one-woman-stands-up-to-more-than-300-nazis-and-refuses-to-let-them-pass-activist-deemed-a-hero-in-sweden-for-iconic-defiant-gesture-in-front-of-fascist-march-2458515.html)
In perhaps the whitest of countries—Sweden—Tess, stands with fist raised in the center of the street where an approaching march of some 300 neo-nazis are parading so that they have to go around her. It takes guts and courage to stand against racism, genocide and oppression. It takes will to make a place that defies the forces that work 24/7 to not let me have that place and the absence of it has been an agenda for centuries. I wonder if she’s scared. She’s my hero.