One afternoon last summer I happened to be watching a TV discussion among five or six black teenagers. All were speaking out of a deep pride in their blackness, as it is almost mandatory to do today, and also out of a feeling of being seriously at odds with the way life is in America. A few seconds before the program ran out, the moderator said he wanted to ask them one final question: did they love America? They looked at each other in silence, evidently as surprised by the question as by its timing. But the clock was running and the moderator waiting, so each of them, with different degrees of certainty, simply said, “No.” I got the feeling they weren’t committed to so total a renunciation, but that under the circumstances, “No” was the closest and briefest approximation to what they felt. With time on my hands, and remaining within the context of their negation, I tried to put into their mouths what I thought they might have said if the circumstance...
For just $19.95 a year, get access to new issues and decades' worth of archives on our site.
Print + Online
For $35 a year, get new issues delivered to your door and access to our full online archives.