The American Mirage

Before the vastness of this place one must choose the encyclopedia or the epigram. But there are no more mountaintops, and what must be said must most often be said briefly to be heard.

This is a lament for my home in a time of its convulsion.

We must begin with what is true.

America operates the largest prison system that has ever existed. Our ideology denies this; our apathy allows it. Our genius us of disappearances.

America operates the largest war machine that has ever existed. Our media elides this; our apathy allows it. Our genius is of disappearances.

America is a place where men, women, and children of color are murdered by police without deterrence. Our justice system perpetuates this; our apathy allows it. Our genius is of disappearances.

I am ashamed of my country, which is and has always been a specter of violence operating under the aegis of grandiose ideals. But that too is our genius: when you approach America, it disappears.

Ideologues say that America has always been an imperfect vision; we have only to perfect it. But we see that this vision has always been a mirage. Behind its shining surfaces is an unbuilt tomb. Imagine, if you can, its scope: that vast lineage of bodies slain by the state through violence, apathy, and disregard. Who will name them? Who will assuage this grief?

The American Dream is a schizophrenia, a horror hiding in plain sight. That all Americans do not know this shows the power of our ideologues, of our apathy, and of our schizophrenia. We carry this weight and have the audacity to call it freedom.

In America, we are already ghosts. We haunt an open grave.

– Jackson Randall, New York City, Summer 2016