I was nine months old when my father died. After his death, my mother remained a widow until December 29, 1979, when she married Cooper, who, by virtue of this fact, became my step-father, although I was twenty-seven at the time and hardly in need of a new parent. But Cooper was not new to me.
Unfortunately, despite our accomplishments, we are victimized by institutional racism. It is a deadly virus in its own right, founded on a social construct of white supremacy and fabricated to justify mass oppression of people of color, it plagues many of our lives. It is also pervasive in medicine, where practitioners double down, often insisting they are color-blind, and in education, where faculty and administrators find multiple reasons not to diversify colleagues or curriculum.
Frederick Douglass saw the Fourth as a mockery, because he was still a slave, but slave poet George Moses Horton saw Independence Day as one to be celebrated as a victory for all. As indeed it was.
The plan was to go back to Saigon for a second tour, but we never did due to the war, the subsequent embargo, and the dissolution of my family. My mother kept the beauty of Vietnam and its people vivid before my eyes, like a sandalwood-scented dream.
Ghosts is a drama of many themes. At its core, though, is the idea of “sickness” as the inexorable tide we push for, or against. It is the one drama—dare it be said, the only?—wherein “sickness” becomes the widest possible metaphor not just for disease, but inherited social convention, accepted ideology, and the crucible of family without which we cannot survive, but in which we can also decay and die.
Melting under conditions of extreme heat is only undertaken with considerable suffering and loss, but generations of white Americans have felt the loss of forgetting to be worth it, if not a little bit because they would rather be what is melted than the pot.
Who was George Moses Horton? I suspect that he was someone like Common, who would dance and gesture when he composed.
Of all forms of literature, however, the essay is the one which least calls for the use of long words. The principle which controls it is simply that it should give pleasure; the desire which impels us when we take it from the shelf is simply to receive pleasure. Everything in an essay must be subdued to that end.
There is no mourning for my grandfather left inside me. There is only guilt as I look into my father’s tired face, guilt as I scroll quickly past a COVID headline.
We hurtle through the vacuum of space in a miraculous terrarium that supports life. It is the only one we know of. Caring for its water, soil, air, flora, and fauna seems like a good idea. But priorities get complicated, and you might be surprised at what people think of yours.