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Fear of America
September 8, 2023
Hey everyone, I’m back but not every post will be about politics. It’s nice to write about a lot of things. This includes fascinating books I read, places I travel, and cinema that I enjoy. Thank you subscribers for the financial and spiritual support! Be well!
Fear was a big part of my life as I grow and reflect on the past. I grew up in a dangerous city (Baltimore, MD) that didn’t allow me to travel past my street block on my bike out of fear of negative solicitation. Or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I traveled within particular parts of the nation, from Detroit to the Massachusetts coast to the University of South Carolina campus. Usually, the spaces I inhabited were cosmopolitan and multicultural. However, growing up I heard a lot about other parts of America that would inject fear into my psyche and filter my view of other less familiar parts of this country. As a lifelong resident of a state within the “Upper South,” I constantly heard about the hatred many White Americans had for Americans of color in the Deep South and within Appalachia. (As well as all over, especially in parts of the nation that were rural and had sparse pockets of melanized Americans.)
My great-grandmother had a phrase that has been passed down for generations in the Beckham (formerly Davis) clan: “Keep looking northward.”
It’s not that these observations were invalid, but they were also general. As I grew older and went to college, I would often not make an effort to join friends and acquaintances on road trips out into “the country” because I was afraid of being pulled over by an overzealous and racist police officer. At this point, the media was littered with stories of police brutality, and the Black Lives Matter movement grew in influence.
I was talking to a local friend (who can pass as White), and we reflected on the state of the nation: the bigotry and the beauty. He told me about all of the wonderful road trips he went on, like one from Maryland to Maine and then to Niagara. I told him how I wanted to drive across the country and see the land I enjoy writing about, however, I was afraid of running into racist people on the street or in official uniforms. We both agreed this was limiting, but it was also a reality of being injected with fear due to being a Black man in America. A fear my friend had not experienced or rarely considered for himself.
There are corners of our reality that we overlook or choose not to reflect upon. One for me is how much fear about “Real America” I have harbored due to the communal stories, media narratives, and historical experiences that suggest a small town is not for African Americans.
So, yes, the Jason Aldean tune doesn’t help.
To love America also means experiencing it.
This is deprived of so many in my community who look at the nation as a brutal survival ground rather than a land of infinite possibility.
I share this as a deeply personal thought and feeling regarding the land that I love. Please reflect on it with reverence and ease.
In the film Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan‘s team depicts a young Bruce Wayne who is riddled with fear after he falls into an abandoned well that is attached to a cave filled with bats. As we know, Bruce Wayne grows to become the caped crusader, Batman, as a way to embrace his own fears stemming from trauma, and later, intense tragedy.
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