More definitively, though, we see “South,” and we think “slavery.” I know because I’m a poet, and the poet in this South must say what historians and politicians and journalists and scientists neglect to say. Let me go further.
She tries a few more no-but-where-are-you-REALLY-froms, then asks, “What’s your cultural heritage?” “Bangladeshi,” I say, relieved. She chortles, as though we have been playing a game of charades and she has just correctly interpreted my gestures. She exclaims: “I knew you were Middle Eastern!”
However, the sculpture of Roosevelt accompanied by the Indigenous American and enslaved African says something else to me: we helped make America—we are not its victims. We are its heroes. Even by the river in Nantes, I didn’t just feel sorrow. I felt glory.