America, we're on a break.

Dear America, 

 Gordon Parks' 1942 photo of Ella Watson, "American Gothic" 

Gordon Parks' 1942 photo of Ella Watson, "American Gothic" 

We need to go on a break. I’ve thought long and hard about this and you’re not going to change my mind. I can’t take fighting with you anymore. While you’ve always been a dick for various reasons (primarily the constant emotional and physical abuse, not to mention the exploitation), lately you’ve become unbearable. It’s almost like you let your little insecure, scared, hateful, whack ass friends be the boss of you and now you’ve got a mad man inside you running the show. It's all, "Me first! Me first!" Dude, you don't live in a bubble and you're sounding way too much like you did during the peak of your "white hood" phase in the 20s.

I didn’t think we'd ever go back to that period to the extent that we did. Things with us finally seemed to be improving. You went to therapy, paid attention to your healthier friends, and in the last 8 years you made some major strides, at least on the surface. I mean, you still cast out soooo many people from your life who just wanted the opportunity to grow with you, and you low-key were fucking people up pretty badly when you traveled to countries like Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan. But my friends, family and community for the most part turned a blind eye to all that shit because you seemed to be guided by someone who had you walking and talking in a way that made them proud. Your family dramatically changed too and finally stopped acting like assholes. They were more beautiful, felt more familiar, and really had me all warm and fuzzy every time I saw y’all, especially your momma. I love her. But now? Oof. It’s like the last 8 years never happened. You're wil'in, son. 

Am I so surprised? You’ve got such a long history of violence, against me, my peoples and basically anyone who doesn’t "have desirable traits", as you claim.  You either pushed aside or destroyed, with a vengeance, everyone living in the house you now try to act as if had always been yours, like you thought you were manifesting some sort of destiny. For all these reasons and more, people BEEN told me, “Girl, leave him. He ain't the one and he will destroy you.” But it’s hard. My family and I have just invested so much in your ass. Hell, you wouldn’t be anywhere you are today were it not for our blood, sweat and tears. And anyone that tries to get with you need never forget that we built you up, even when we had no choice.

But maybe I’ve gotta know when to fold 'em, focus less on what’s been invested and more on the life that I want for myself and my future family. And I can’t fix you if I’m falling to pieces. But here's the other fear. What if I leave, and you’re left to your own devices, growing stronger and more angry? If I leave now, there will be one less person around to force you to get your shit together. And you’re so powerful that eventually, if allowed to bubble over, you’ll burn everything around, leaving me nowhere to really run even if I wanted to. Fuck, why is this all so complicated? 

Sankofa: "Return and get it"

It probably isn’t going to come as a huge shock to you, but I was recently seeing Ghana. It's been all over social media. It was a quick thing. But now I keep asking myself, WWDD (What would DuBois do)? I've decided I'm going to go be with Ghana for a while. He just kind of gets me. Yes, I know, he has his shit too. I’m well aware that Ghana probably wouldn’t seem so great or even fuck with me like that if I didn’t have the education that I do, or have a little money to fall back on, or come from the family that I do, if I didn’t look the way I do, or have this history of being with you for so long. But when I’m with him it just seems like so much more is possible in my life. Like with all that I have right at this moment I can build with him. I’m enough already. He would be open to support whatever I chose to do, even if I might have to be more patient and grease a few palms to get it done. Ghana and I have this connection that is bigger than us, almost as if we dated in a former life. What did Stevie say? “I feel like this is the beginning. Though I’ve loved you for a million years.”  Or Jilly from Philly? “You splashed my face with Nile water. Daughter of Diaspora. You named me, claimed me.”

You, you never want to claim me, no matter how much I do for you, how much I love you, no matter how much I’m your ride or die, how many accolades I accumulate. I’m never good enough. But Ghana? Ghana is like, “Girl, bring yo’ fine ass on home and let me love you. Let’s make babies and grow old together.” America, where you at tho’?

Yes, I’ve seen other people throughout our relationship. When I was younger I knew that I had to see what else was out there. I first stepped out, for real for real, with Brasil when I was 21, right after graduating from Howard. I’ve been an aficionada of distant loves ever since. Every tryst did something to me. I experienced what else was possible. The relationships varied in length; a week here, a month there. Me and Chile went strong for about 6 months, and even while I was seeing him I checked for Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Uruguay. Me and Colombia had a real back and forth for a while. I probably saw him more than anyone else, other than Puerto Rico, of course, but he was basically family. Colombia and I had a true love/hate relationship, but then he got Zika, as did almost everyone I used to see around his way. So I have to fall back for a while on that whole hood, since I don’t want to deal with one of them, get pregnant and put my future children at risk.

And yes, I know that casually seeing someone is not the same as being tied to one person every single day, that visiting a man during a quick jaunt isn’t the same as living with him. I’m not trying to romanticize these other dudes. I’m well aware that they allll got their shit to them. Sometimes their racism is even more frustrating than yours. Sometimes their misogyny or classism becomes too much to bear. Sometimes their homophobia makes me sick. Sometimes it’s just too hard to get day-to-day things done when with them and I want more of the comforts I’ve grown accustomed to, being with you for so long. For these reasons and more, I always run back to you. At least I’m used to your bullshit and can wrap my brain around it. And as difficult as you can be, you also provide basic things that I need to keep my life in order. You also keep people I really care about close to you. I don’t want to break up with you and be totally cut off from them. Plus, professionally we've worked well together. While you don’t permit as many people to make moves as you would if you were truly committed to equality as much as you say you are, I can’t front. You do sometimes give people opportunities who really wouldn’t have had them given their circumstances, had they been rolling with others. Having dated around, I’ve seen other dudes talk a good game, but they allow even fewer folks from the bottom to come up. 

Deep down, I can’t help but to feel that we can be something special together. I’ve watched my peoples' struggles with you all these years result in some of the most incredible artists, art forms, thinkers and athletes, some of the strongest, most badass political movements, true inspirations for folks around the world. Channeling the kind of pressure and heat that turns coal into diamonds, they made it a beautiful struggle. 

Ultimately, you know I was ready to be with you forever, in spite of the nonsense, and in spite of my interest in other people. Why can’t you just act right, America? Why can’t you get that I too am you, and you are me? This thing with you has become too much. I can’t fucks with you right now. I’m not saying that we’re breaking up. But we do need a break. Let's reconvene in the spring. 

Still hoping that one day it will all make sense,