A Dream Deferred

“What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?”Langston Hughes

The poem above was written by Langston Hughes and is seen as an examination of the American dream.

An American dream deferred. My American dream deferred,
This is what I’m going to talk about today.

Since I was a child (and if you ask many, many will agree) I have wanted to drive across North America.
Be it right across the middle, splitting the country in two, cutting a horizontal line across the continent.
Or, by travelling that famous stretch of road, known worldwide as Route 66.
Any of these would have suited me, they really would have.

That is until I realise that by driving in America it seems that I would have to account for my blackness.
Race isn’t something I usually talk about and that’s because it has never really been needed for context before.
Of course my race has affected my life before now, there’s no way in hell that it wouldn’t.

Being followed in shops by an out of shape security can only count as basic everyday shit.
Even more common is the person trying to secretly clutch onto their belongings as I walk past.
That shit gets to you after a couple of decades.
I’ve even had someone run away from me, even though I was a good 30 metres away from them.

But, it’s rare that I fear for my life because of my race.
Walking around the UK I don’t think that my life is at risk at the hands of a white police officer on a power trip.
A white police officer who, history says, will not see any repercussions.
But that’s what America has become.

In all fairness it’s what it’s always been.

Whiteness is blankness” – Donald Glover

The quote I used above is true. I’ve witnessed it.
“Whiteness is blankness”.
When a white person is seen he is judges by his actions and his actions alone, but, when a black person is seen they are judged by the actions of other black people.
My white friends don’t have to deal with people constantly clutching their belongings for dear life. My white friends aren’t followed around in shops.
There was once where I thought it might be happening, but then I went a different way and it was apparent who the fat bastard was really interested in.

Racism has long been a truth, self evident or not, that has hummed in the background of modern day America.
That being black comes with the need to prove that you’re innocent and being white means that they have to prove you’re guilty.
But that’s the thing about that constant background noise, it’s easily ignored, that is until you’re reminded about it, constantly.

Week after week, there seems to be footage emerging, not of historical racism, but more the racism derived from America’s historical racism.
More footage of police officers, some of whom it’s easy to see can’t handled the apparent authority that they believe that they have been given.
Making up laws in the hope of appealing to the possible ignorance of the person in front of them.
Due to the influx of footage from smartphones and dashcams I’m seeing more and more evidence for what I already knew to be truth.
The thing that gets me most is the lack of consequence.

Oh, another officer, in another town killed another unarmed person of colour and no charges were filed?
Must just be that time of the week again.

I don’t know man, these are just my thoughts, temporary ones at that.
I’m seeing this from across the way, but, I’m only seeing what’s being reported.
It’s either a lot worse or just as bad as it looks.
Either way, it’s a risk I’m not sure I want to take.

My original point.
My dream, my American dream, my dream of seeing what road movies have promised my whole life has been deferred. Maybe indefinitely.
The dream I kept and grew for all those years. And what will become of it now?

“What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?” – Langston Hughes