On one sweltering, late-summer afternoon in Pennsylvania, the kind of day that invites a certain dreamy idleness, my grandfather taught me how to make clouds disappear.
From Issue 20: "The prayer Sally Hemings’s mother teaches about boys named Thomas" by Nia Dickens (Fiction)
When the king tides flooded Waikiki and box jellyfish floated along Kalakaua Avenue, I failed to understand that it had anything to do with me. But two years later, when the number of applicants to the private high school where I was principal had declined by nearly fifty percent, I began to feel the stings...
Each time I look at myself in the mirror, a host of victims and perpetrators returns my gaze.
What did I expect to learn about this strange heritage by spitting in a tube?
Two hundred years ago, Missouri and Maine became yoked forever by the conditions of their statehood, a slave region and free region forced to walk arm-in-arm into the United States. Designed to preserve the Union, the Missouri Compromise revealed just how precarious that union was. The Compromise granted white supremacists a seat at the American table of power and, by virtue of the concessions they won, guaranteed them a future seat. The deal involved powerful anti-slavery interests, but not enslaved people—an extraordinary compromise, that conceded nothing to the population at the center of the debate.
Two hundred years later, I am wondering about what we carry—we who have lived in the states of compromise. It is 2020: a time of quarantine, of enforced and voluntary distance, of the cutting of the breath, the spirit. I am wondering what positions are binding, are fatal, whether we might commute what lines we can.
- Page 1 of 7