What it seems like vs What it really is
I see how it is.
Marc talked; a lot.
A mile a minute.
Maybe I noticed it the most.
Maybe because he was fluent in Spanish and English and didn’t exclude himself from any conversation.
Myself, Bobby, Ben, and our tour guide Diego, let Marc talk.
Because it seemed (say it with stress (“SEEMED”), what Marc knew, he would tell you.
Regardless of whether you knew it already.
It seemed, what Marc didn’t know, he would ask you.
Regardless of whether he was invading your privacy or not.
It seemed, what Marc thought he knew, he would tell you like he knew.
Regardless of whether you knew that he was full of shit or not.
Bobby was from Morocco. After introducing himself to Marc, Bobby was bombarded with a line of questioning:
“Are you Muslim?”
“What language do you speak?”
“You’re an Arab right?”
Bobby didn’t seem upset by the questioning.
His expression was like that of someone performing an age-old ritual.
Now, I’ll admit, I’m embellishing a bit for effect.
The last question didn’t come until dinner, when Marc wanted to show off his French fluency to Bobby and Ben — whom both lived in a French district of Canada.
So Marc goes: “Albert Camus, The Stranger, it’s written in French.”
“It’s a crazy book.”
“This guy, the main character, he goes crazy.”
“He kills an Arab.”
Marc looks squarely at Bobby. And no one else.
I don’t know how any of what Marc is about to say is relevant. Maybe he was professing his ignorance.
If I had to guess, it didn’t seem that way.
“He kills an Arab,” was still echoing in my brain when Marc said, “You’re an Arab right?”
A horrible silence falls.
Horrible for us, myself and Bobby, and Diego and Ben because for the first time during the tour, we welcome Marc’s silence at the absolute worst time.
Later, when speaking of Algeria, Bobby, trying to remember the nickname of his neighboring country, is abruptly interrupted by Marc.
“Land of the…I can’t remember,” Bobby says.
“Slaves?” Marc shouts and laughs.
I’m trying to figure out…WHAT IS SO FUNNY? But on the other end, I’m trying not to be typecast as the angry black man.
Through this — through my silence (my violent silence)— there is a general understanding (I realized while seething). Marc’s (suspected) white supremacist rhetoric, overall is more respected and tolerated than my potential response would be.
I didn’t see his remarks as coincidence or slip of the tongue or jokes or alcohol-induced.
And even if they were an accident, with no apology in earshot, no visible regret, no acknowledgement of a human being’s feelings or perceived interpretation, I could only assume he was being bold.
I was too worn to have that conversation with him.
That conversation that I thought wouldn’t follow me to Costa Rica.
That conversation that shouldn’t even be a conversation. Because a conversation is considered civil.
And I have conversations with people who at least have an ounce of empathy.
But my lack of reaction and worn soul had nothing to do with Marc and everything to do with the Marcs of America (US).
The Marcs of America (US) don’t see us. They don’t identify with us because they don’t want to be seen as like us or similar. They set up gofundme accounts for the Zimmermans and Wilsons and Pantaleos.
They celebrate and champion killers like heroes in many corners of the country; openly and behind closed doors.
I could see it for what it was (what it is), and not what it seemed like.
This encounter with Marc was far from an awakening.
But a reminder of how the US the government and “fellow” citizens have tried to make it seem like we are OK, when we know (or should know) what it really is.
Be Empathetic (39/56)
Inspired by “Marc” and Lamar Prince