Academic journal article African American Review

Enemies

Academic journal article African American Review

Enemies

Article excerpt

At night the loading dock doors are open to the truckyard. The church sits in the middle, defiant and mostly empty. They would rather worship once a month in silence than sell to the company so the trucks can swing around without cursing church and chapel. It is quiet, nowhere the howling and spitting, the bump and smack of tow motors roaring into trucks or sliding and clicking in on electricity. Walking through the endless warehouse, I can hear the day's echoes and thoughts float down and collect in trash. I can hear you slicing the watermelon with a knife that shines like treachery and deceit or like peacemaking.

Months before this, you told a black manager, "I hate niggers." You hate with sincerity. A B.A. should put you in the white shirt the black manager has. You worked hard for your B.A. in evenings. Nigger has nothing to do with race, you say. Nigger is as nigger does. Nigger is a mark of the way one goes through the world, as if we are ships. Nigger is some bandit manner of sailing, stinking into harbor. Nigger is not really a person's color. A nigger cannot be a person. One day you saw me driving on the beltway and roared close, passing me in your Corvette, mouth open, laughing at me, ignoring me. Nigger is as nigger does. Run, nigger. Run.

You slice a whole watermelon because there is all of me to feed such an indigenous food. Smiling, you ask me to come over and take a break with you. …

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