BY BRIAN BROOME
My Patience with White People (1970-something - 2016)
It is with a heavy head and a heavy heart that I bring My Patience with White People to its final resting place. It has been a long relationship. My Patience with White People has been one of my best friends seeing me through hard times teaching me how to turn the other cheek. And the other cheek and the other cheek and the other….
I won’t pretend that the relationship wasn’t sometimes contentious. But, My Patience with White People endured teaching that there was always a better way thus keeping me out of jail and off the dole. But, after a long illness, My Patience with White People suffered and died in a most spectacular way and, as they say, it doesn’t come as any less of a shock when it’s expected.
I met My Patience with White People when I was playing alone on a playground as just a little boy. The white boys who surrounded me told me that there were no niggers allowed on the playground and My Patience sidled up alongside me and gently placed a hand over my mouth using the other to restrain my wrists. My Patience kept me from an ass beating and we were fast friends. Over the years, My Patience with White People has frozen my tongue through every unwanted touching of my hair, every assumption that I have no history, every insulting comparison between my “tan” and theirs. In later years, My Patience taught me to be still and exercise poise and understanding through every exclamation of “Not all white people!”. My Patience with White People is responsible for the gold-plated medal hung around my neck emblazoned with the words “Not REALLY black.” My Patience taught me when and where to code switch, what subjects to not bring up in “polite” company and how to cut my hair so that it looked the least nappy.
But, for all the work My Patience with White People put in, white people remain as they’ve ever been; slathered in hubris and unrepentant. They proved it this past November when, after a long illness, they pulled the plug on My Patience and shouted “…Great Again!” as My Patience breathed its last.
My Patience with White People never told me that they will forever and always believe that this planet was created for them and them only. Never once did My Patience let me see the truth in its fruitlessness. These secrets were kept from me to preserve my sanity and I will always be grateful. But, death is final and death is the only truth we’ll ever have.
My Patience with White People leaves behind four siblings. Tenacity, Endurance, Cynicism, and Hope and to them I say that the crying will only last one night. They face a formidable enemy in White Americanism. But, they are ready to take the place of My Patience., A friend whom I shall never forget.
Pumzika kwa Amani.
Brian Broome is an English and Creative Writing Student at Chatham University. He has previously been published in the Ocean State Review, Creative Nonfiction and Equal Magazine.