Do you wanna know what America is like, really like? It's not on tv and its not in the beautifully curated ads of various ethnicities brought to us by Old Navy and Aerie.
Take a trip to your local social security office. It'll be busy. It's always busy. Bumping and swarming with people leisurely in need. People pretending to be patient while actually perking their ears so as to not miss their turn.
You'll notice that the people in question represent a myriad of peoples. Of ethnicities. Of races. We're dressed in a myriad of outfits- outfitted for a workout, for a date, for a post work errand. We're all wearing our "This is what I thought we'd all be wearing" uniform. You know the one? When you assume the dress code of a place and dress to meet it, enough to blend in but end up somehow being off the nonexistent mark.
As you survey the lack of dress code, you notice that the air smells... of weariness. It's not sweaty, I ran a race, I did a thing weariness. It's more I'm wearing perfume, a dress with a tag on it, gimme a rose on the Bachelor/ette weariness. A Please See Me weariness. Please see me.
Everyone in the corners of your view- everyone the fluorescent light touches ( in your Mufasa voice), whether traveler, immigrant or wanderer, is holding a screaming "Please see me!"at bay underneath their worn attire. A lot of these people are so accustomed to it that they have chapped their lips on those very words over and over. Others are running their palms over their mouth trying to figure out what's happening- they've never had to say it aloud before.
A man I wish was my friend once sang/rapped/shouted "This is America." A full house. A full house with an open door. And in every corner are adults of color, white kids, folks with exceptionalities. Languages abound and they are whispered and sang. There are always two cops present but they change on the hour and the kindness in their eyes varies as does the age in their stance. Everyone is weary. Everyone wants to be seen whether they're used to that desire or trying it anew. Everyone has a need of equal weight.
I visited the social security office recently. And I breathed in this. I hadn't expected it. I hadn't expected and therefore had not prepared. I hadn't prepared so I got to experience. I had not had the time or wherewithal to pre-construct pathways or walls or channels with which to feed the experience of all these people and all this need. I didn't have the tools to make my inhale of it all "right." And because of that, it could be good. Because I hadn't decided ahead of time what it had to be, America could be good.