★ ★ ★ ★
By Robert Taylor
Trump’s shithole comment (shithole, shit house. Whatever makes you feel like a better person) was the first time I was intrigued about what people had to say about politics in months. I had been doing my best trying to limit social media exposure, cable news and the friends who like discussing every moral issue saturated on the internet, but then the inevitable, unescapable political freakout happened—literally giving me anxiety. Everyone chimed in because in today’s America it’s almost necessary; like it’s an obligation. The truth is, I love to write about these political debates but since Trump’s rapport with the general public has desensitized us to how a normal presidency works, I have found my vocal input moot at times. If I am also being honest I originally had no intent on even thinking about this comment politically, philosophically or just from a curiosity if this would be the first time he would face consequences. Instead I moped around in the reality that surrounding me there could be people that think the exact same way as he did.
It wasn’t until a week after that I felt an emotional connection to the comment. It was during the peak hours of monotony at work, crawling my way to closing time, when a Haitian man asked me where a particular item was in the store. He was an older Haitian gentleman much like my grandfather, dignified, politely asking me in better English than I attempt to speak so late in the day. Slowly walking back, the man returns to his family in the other aisle. Seeing the family together, dressed up and laughing, I immediately thought to myself that these people did not come from a shithole. They reminded me much of my grandparents who also came from Haiti. Watching them leave speaking with the beautifully reminiscing creole, I no longer thought of the potentially nationalist customers but the people that came from a similar history. I didn’t take into account that these people could be proud of where they come from. People who walked a different walk, and had something to say about a faraway land that’s nothing but beautiful to them. Watching them leave, a feeling of emptiness ominously casted over me. A feeling of regret for not being able to understand them. For not learning or appreciating a language that connected me to a whole other world.
During the rest of my shift, to the ride home, to the restless nights I had, I couldn’t stop thinking about how I have forgotten or at least taken advantage of the fact that I not only access to a whole culture with just a phone call but that having them in my life has been a momentous influence to how I see America. The hubris of America to think other places are shitholes is depressing. It shows a lack of compassion towards people who are different. However, what is more depressing was that I didn’t immediately come to the defense of people like me after the statement. But Haitian people don’t need my help. They know who they are, they know their strength, they know their worth. I’m proud of this part of me, though I’m not proud that I forgot it was a part of me.
With all that goes on in this world today, the seclusion and harboring of thoughts and subjective facts, I feel, can make people a little crazy; myself included with my tendency to spiral into anxiety. But since that night at work I have found solace in the little things that I never considered making me. Like little sparks of social DNA that gave me life. Simple things like hearing a customer speak creole or listening to Compas music from a car passing by have given me a solace I never expected it would. Trump’s comment became meaningless. His attempt at making me and my family not feel at home has made me feel connected to my roots more than ever.
Robert Taylor is a student, who is pursuing his passion for writing. He loves all genres of writings and films, but has a soft spot for weird science fiction, finding inspiration from writers like George Saunders, Laurie Anderson, J.G. Ballard and countless others. He also has a degree in Criminal Justice. He lives in Long Island, New York.
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