If a ten-year old white boy crosses the street when he sees me; and then breaks into an athletic run after cutting the corner, I always laugh my head off. It never bothers me. I just feel sorry for the little boy. However, I feel sorry for the great disservice being done to the boy.
I wish I could sit with the boy and explain to him a word or two about myself and where I come from. I can’t call the boy for that’d invite the unspeakable. However, I have an avenue other people don’t have. I’m a writer, and I can reflect on such incidences. I feel sorry for the boy for he’s being denied the richness of humanity; the capacity to know the mysteries of humanities different from his.He could simply understand that in my culture elders, like teachers, can’t be called by their first names; or that I’m Kuir Ajah (not Kuir Garang) when I visit my mother’s family; or that women don’t take their husbands names in my culture. The little boy would want to know the ‘whys’ of all these and he’d be amazed and enriched. But the little white boy is being denied this enriching experience.
He’s being denied the beauty of South Sudan; its people, its culture. The boy could benefit from the richness of Jiëëŋ’s family structure and communal philosophies.From his own family’s indoctrination, he sees me as dangerous. However, he’s being denied the chance to realize that I have thoughts and mode of thinking he’s not able to get from his family and society.
However, it’s not only the little white boy who’s being denied the chance to learn and understand the supposedly dangerous me. While the boy takes his fear and indoctrination at face value, his parents don’t. If the parents are conscientious enough, they’d feel bad and burdened by the guilt. But how’d they get rid of that guilt? They’ll have to get close to people who’d help them understand. They can't come close to me because I'm dangerous!Their question would be: “What’s the point?”
The uneasiness in the little white boy isn’t hatred. It’s innocence manifested as fear or uneasiness. However, I can’t be so confident about the parents' state of mind. It could be hatred, but I don’t have enough to conclude it as hatred that'd trickled down to the little boy from the parents.It could be something they see in the media. If all they see in the media about people like me is always violence, then I feel for both the parents and the little boy. Their fear has grounding, at least! However, the parents have enough brains to go beyond the fear and understand something; something about the African Person!
This uneasiness is what Christopher Fox tried to understand in The Pipers and the First Phase. It’s the same thing that Angelina tried to understand in Trifles about her friend Adut.
There was always fear in people’s eyes, on the street, in the presence of Little, unless someone saw Chris walking along side Little. That uneasiness with Little’s existential prominence made Chris uneasy and questioning of his own existence. What did I do to deserve my privilege? With all his heart, Chris prayed for a situation in which he’d be on the defense against his existential essence and instrumentality to the society. That was a North American natural impossibility. In high school, that never happened. He prayed for a day on which he’d have the opportunity to painfully say ‘you don’t know what it’s like to be like me.’
(Excerpted from The Pipers and the First Phase, p.103)
Unless the little white boy's family is blinded by Conradian lenses and sees no point in trying to understand the African Person, they’d know that in any given society, there are good and bad people.However, in the mainstream Canadian society and media, good deeds in the African Person aren’t always interesting. Bad deeds are always good news. How can this little white boy know that there are good deeds from people like me when the media sees no interest in good deeds we do?
I feel sorry for the little boy!
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