Can you tell me how to get…
You are black. You are standing in line with a bunch of non-black people – say a check-out stand at Walmart. There has been a black customer infront of you. This black person has screamed, she’s black she is loud and she’s proud, either at the cashier [the card keeps coming short], her sister or her baby-daddy who promised to pick up the kids/chip-in with the rent/did something or other with some girl or other. You have been embarrassed by this assault on the ear canal, panicked – as all Ethiopians have and would – that you’d be perceived just as bad by the disvirtue of sharing the same skin-color! “Asedabiwoch”, you might have said and moved on, had there been a friend or a family member standing beside you. There being none, and not being of the temperament that shrugs the shoulder and says “Egna min ageban” [but of the kind that needs to prove he/she was a different kind of black, an Ethiopian black – a friend with a face burnt with the sun] what’s your best plan of action?!
Sing! [I say]. Not “yaGerhin” zefen. Not even a radom “yaGeracheWun” zefen. But a particular zefen! A zefen that comes with kids, and nature-shots and everything that makes life in America look fantasy-land for the young [or the young at heart]. A song that starts with “Sunny day” and talks about sweet airs and friendly neighbours. Of open doors, magic carpet rides and happy people. By the time you hit the 4th note, and are asking to be told how to get there, one of the white women standing before you is bound to turn around [with the slow dramatic twist of the neck] and ask rather sharply [but not totally unfriendly-ly], if you were singing the theme song for Sesame Street.
[Smiles are swapped. Harmlessness established. Friendship stroke up. Or striked-up. Or striken.
So here is to big bird, to cookie-monster and the number nine. To things we will be missing [when Romney gets elected], or missed out on [when born in Ethiopia – the classic!]:
To drawings we didn’t do.
To Grimm tales that weren’t read to us.
To numbers that neither run nor danced to ‘eyaznanu mastemar’ us.
To colors that didn’t brighten our worlds!
To swing-sets we didn’t swim through the air on top of
To art-classes we didn’t attend
and music-lessons we never took.
To field-trips we didn’t go to
[Fishings, Campings, boy/girl scout clubs]
And countries we weren’t exchange-students at
[To Japan, The Dominican republic, Italy or France
To Mandarine-Chinese, to Spanish, Guten Morgen & Guten tags]
Here is to self-love we were never taught
To a world we were never encouraged to explore
And a life we would go through like a mice in a maze full of traps
Here is to being Ethiopian and to missing out on things that make childhood fun, adult-hood an adventure, growing old a new chapter.
Here is to being axed, out-sourced; to not being them and stealing their jobs. Here is to you and I!
Entry filed under: Latest Posts. Tags: american childhood, american children, Big Bird, bigbird, children entertainment, children television, election 2012, first debate, jim lehrer, obama campaign, PBS, presidential debate, Romney, Sesame Street.