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Hanging Participle

By Anna Kente

I am becoming. I have the proof. Documents, photos, evidence. Raise the right and you are an American. They give you a passport. Your new identity. You are Tri-lingual. Name how many: one. two. three. Stripes are there on the U.S. flag? And you learn the Preamble, Bill of Rights, First Ten Amendments. The right to bare arms and show some leg. It makes no difference. You learn you are not one of them, they treat you with indifference. Papers in order but the words give you away. Every pause. They ask your identity. They comment on your inability to speak clearly. They want to know your station. Ask to check the baggage. You open your mouth half way. They check each article. Question you on foreign articles, past participles, hanging-

They say you need to learn. To say                                    said     saying.

If only you would speak more slowly!!! Take on their punctuation. Learn the demarcations. To have the same sound, the same name. The sounds that move one at a time. rule,ExceptionE ‘ r-t , stops and starts again roo hll but exceptions. Stop. Start. Starts. Contractions.N oise. Sembla.naoef noise. .” Broken:speechO. ne to onei, a iirne. l r -, Crackedt ongue..Broketno ‘ngue. ‘ Pidgeon.S emblanceo f sp’eech. \ Eflortless. It should be eff ortless. Effort lf,ss fu the closeri t is the closeltro it. Swallows.I nhales.S tutter.$ ta1ts,,Stopbse fore )’ starts. ! ; I About to. Th’en slops. Exhale : swallowed-


This story is in print as part of Chimurenga Vol. 15: The Curriculum is Everything (available here).

Presented in the form of a textbook, Chimurenga 15 asks what could the curriculum be – if it was designed by the people who dropped out of school so that they could breathe?


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