What I do know is that love reckons with the past and evil reminds us to look to the future. Evil loves tomorrow because peddling in possibility is what abusers do. At my worst, I know that I’ve wanted the people that I’ve hurt to look forward, imagining all that I can be and forgetting the contours of who I have been to them.
Like good Americans, I told Grandma, we will remember to drink ourselves drunk on the antiquated poison of progress. We will long for “shall’s” and “will be’s” and “hopes” for tomorrow. We will heavy-handedly help in our own deception and moral obliteration. We will forget how much easier it is to talk about gun control, mental illness and riots than it is to talk about the moral and material consequences of manufactured white American innocence.
We will lament the numbers of folks killed in mass murders in the United States. There’s a number for that. We will talk about the numbers of people killed in black-on-black murder. There’s a number for that. We will never talk about the number of unemployed and underemployed hard-working black folks living in poverty. We will never talk about the numbers of black folk in prison for the kinds of nonviolent drug-related offenses my white students commit every weekend. We will never talk about the number of human beings killed by young American military men and women draped in camouflage, or the number of human beings murdered by drones across the world. We will never talk about the specific amount of money this country really owes Grandma and her friends for their decades of unpaid labor. We will never talk about the moral and monetary debt accrued by the architects of this Empire. There are shameful numbers for all of that, too.
I know that President Obama knows all those numbers.
I know those number keeps him up at night. I also know that President Obama wakes up every morning afraid of what white people, white power, white supremacy will do to him and his family, and what they have done to this country.
He knows how he has encouraged it. In this twisted way, we all know.
Tomorrow, President Obama will smile and sit down with white people, white power and white supremacy. I know that, like most of us, he will let them in again and again because was elected to have faith in tomorrow. He was elected to have faith in tomorrow. And even after he is no longer president, he will still want to be chosen as someone who represents a better tomorrow for people who hate him.
I wonder sometimes what he does with his pain and his shame.