by Lorenzo Simpson
Sometimes I wonder who I’d be praying to if the Bible hadn’t ethnically cleansed my ancestors.
I wonder what native tongue I’d be fluent in if the King’s English hadn’t chopped it off, what color robes did they wear before they bowed to the European button-down?
How sweet was the freshly grown pineapple before they added the aftertaste of imperialism, how long did it take my forefathers to notice the ships rocking towards their Western shores, and did they do anything to prepare for what was coming.
I mean, you’re supposed to warn everyone in the area when a hurricane’s about to hit. Bar the doors, hit the floors, unchain your prisoners of war because when it lands, it’ll wipe out everything, it doesn’t discriminate.
I sat in my high school history classes, getting told the same story every year, the rape and pillage of brown skin villages in the name of the cross and the crown. King Leopold’s ghost is more terrifying than every ‘Jason’ sequel, but I guess 10 Million Congolese corpses couldn’t fit into an 8 month syllabus.
I wonder why God gave my people farms and Europeans arms, it just made it that much easier to rob them at gunpoint.
When they laid side to side at the bottom of the slave ships halfway into the Atlantic, did they hold hands for comfort, staring at the wooden ceiling as the salt water slipped through the cracks, splashing onto their cheeks just in case they ran out of tears.
I wonder how something as light as cotton could weigh them down so brutally, the fabric of their lives that was worth more than the hands that picked it, pinches of white clouds burning holes in the lining of their knapsacks as they snapped their spines to reach infinite quotas.
I wonder how my culture can be invisible while at the same time stick out like a broken thumb. Why did it take a mass epidemic to get the first female president of Liberia and the first black president of America into the same room?
Whether it’s hip-hop or Ebola, America doesn’t take notice until it’s seen through blue eyes or shown with blond hair. Or sung by John Legend.
I wonder why Pharrell helped Robin Thicke rob Marvin Gaye, instead of just…asking his family. When did we become cannibals? Feeding off each other’s talent just to get a check from a hand that only feeds you if your melanin levels are set properly.
I wonder why Shaka Zulu hasn’t had a feature film, his army was bigger than two 300 movies. I wonder how much of my culture will be concealed or consumed until there’s nothing left. I wonder how much the hurricane had already washed away before I heard the sound of the alarm.
I wonder how many people I can warn before the dark clouds form again. I wonder how many posts on Facebook I’ll have to make about appropriation, and police brutality, and microaggressions until my top commenters stop making excuses for ignorance.
The storm came. It never left. But we all see it swelling, see it swirling in the humid air. I wonder how long it’ll take to destroy history’s repeat button. I wonder.