Inimicus

Enemy

Enemy

En-e-my

Enemy

From the Latin

inimicus

in meaning not

and

amicus meaning friend

inimicus, not friend

inimicus

enemy

en-e-my

I didn’t know it until I was

8 or 9

that

I was born with a sworn enemy

Me?

Hard thing to wrap your head around

around

the age when caring about what people feel about you is automatic

around

the age when

paranoia and shame

kick in before hormones

and then the hormones only heighten it

and if you don’t get a grip on it, the next thing you know, you’re heading into your thirties with a chip on your shoulder and I’m getting ahead of myself

back to the enemy

the enemy

I met

when I was 8 or 9

the enemy

I thought was the little white boy who called me “Nigger” knowing whatever comeback I came back with would never be able to

Trump

his

This word that

somehow

was tailor made for me that fit more like a straight jacket than a brand new Easter suit

It wasn’t until I heard it again
 and again and again and again

Not from the little white boy from before

but

in movies whenever a white character needed to put a black character in their place;

or

in jokes, like, did you ever hear the one about

the nigger that got killed in Vietnam? When the sergeant told him to

“get down”

he got up and started dancing;

But notably from the young lady’s father who asked “Is this a nigger or a white man?” when I called her house.

I replied, “Neither?” And left my name and number for her to call me back.

Sometime after my first encounter with police

but before the many times store managers would accuse me of shoplifting in Duane Reade or selling drugs in the bathroom at Fuel on 9th Ave

I came to realize the little white boy who called me

“Nigger”

was my enemy by default

Guilty by association

An ally of my enemy and thus my enemy

Oh

white supremacy has always been an enemy of mine

this system, ideology, way of life to keep me in my place.

The little white boy was only acting as an agent of it

A soldier following orders

Maybe just repeating something he’d heard his daddy say before

but

in that moment

he was choosing to be my

inimicus

In — not, amicus — friend

inimicus

enemy

I say choosing because he knew better

and so did all the other little white children that surrounded us

because around the age of 8 or 9 we all know what does and does not feel good but we’re still at an age when we test to see what we can and cannot get away with

and again

my enemy was a system

an ideology

a way of life that, when upheld,

held me down

and sometime around when I was 8 or 9

had slipped a self-hate roofy in my Kool-Aid

and for a while it let me think I was outwitting it

for my weapon of choice was to ignore it

Strap on my helmet of inattention

and breastplate of negligence

and do like most of the white people that surrounded me and

pretend

pretend

pretend

it didn’t exist

Treat it like a God that I didn’t believe in

while putting my faith in my ability to lurk within the shadows

Every pothole navigated

Every hoop jumped

Every bullet dodged

would be in the name of evading white supremacy

A dangerous game of freeze tag I couldn’t really afford to play because

unbeknownst to me

my enemy was winning

winning because I’d refused to take it on head on

winning because

I felt more comfortable trying to maneuver around it than combatting it

I thought I was a spy

but I was

a double agent

white supremacy’s ally

calling out “niggers” whenever I spotted them

unknowingly

hating myself every step of the way

because

if the friend of my enemy is my enemy

then my inimicus

my enemy

my en-e-my

was in me

in as in not

and

in as in inside

inimicus

enemy

in me

See

ever since I was 8 or 9

I tried to prove to white people that I wasn’t a nigger

I wasn’t that black boy, that black man

I wanted to feel free like white folks

I wanted to

fly

but

I was letting my self-hate pilot the plane

and everyone knows self hate loves a suicide mission

self hate rendered me a kamikaze pilot

wrapped in C4 with a grenade in hand with the pin pulled

just in case

because at the end of the day

I am not the only one who has to live with my choices.

When I remove God from my heart

and banish Him/Her/It to the sky

it’s easier to make alliances with

Racism

Sexism

Homophobia

Xenophobia

Ableism

and

Ageism

and wage war on all of humanity.

When I sacrifice

my better judgment for

systems, ideologies, and ways of life

or more commonly

for fear of looking like the odd man out

I find that I’ve made enemies in the most unlikely of places

mainly in the mirror

When self-reflection becomes too much to bear

and it’s easier to attack someone else’s

character

someone else’s

spirit

someone else’s

body

or watch from the sidelines as it happens to another

then the inimicus

the enemy

the e-ne-my

is

in me

and forgiveness becomes that much more expensive,

mercy becomes a vessel lost at sea, and

grace

becomes a fairytale we read about in ancient holy books.

Whether this planet be prison or paradise

Life is a birthright to be handled with care

and it should

always

have a

friend

in me.

© Daniel J. Watts

April 2, 2018