Boston Review
CURRENT ISSUE
table of contents
FEATURES
new democracy forum
new fiction forum
poetry
fiction
film
archives
ABOUT US
masthead
mission
rave reviews
contests
writers’ guidelines
internships
advertising
SERVICES
bookstore locator
literary links
subscribe
RSS feed

Search bostonreview.net
Search the Web
Google


 

from Don’t Let Me Be Lonely





Cornel West makes the point that hope is different from American optimism. After the initial presidential election results come in, I stop watching the news. I want to continue watching, charting, and discussing the counts, the recounts, the hand counts, but I cannot. I lose hope. However Bush came to have won, he would still be winning ten days later and we would still be in the throes of our American optimism. All the non-reporting is a distraction from Bush himself, the same Bush who can’t remember if two or three people were convicted for dragging a black man to his death in his home state of Texas.
You don’t remember because you don’t care. Sometimes my mother’s voice swells and fills my forehead. Mostly I resist the flooding, but in Bush’s case I find myself talking to the television screen: You don’t remember because you don’t care.
Then, like all things impassioned, this voice takes on a life of its own: You don’t know because you don’t fucking care. Fuck you.
I forget things too. It makes me sad. Or it makes me the saddest. The sadness is not really about George W. or our American optimism; the sadness lives in the recognition that a life can not matter. Or, as there are billions of lives, my sadness is alive inside the recognition that billions of lives never mattered. I don’t know, I just find when the news comes on I switch the channel. This new tendency might be indicative of a deepening personality flaw: IMH, The Inability to Maintain Hope, which translates into no innate trust in the supreme laws that govern us. Cornel West says this is what is wrong with black people today—too nihilistic. Too scarred by hope to hope, too experienced to experience, too close to dead is what I think.


—Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine coedited American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language with Juliana Spahr.
Her fourth collection of poems, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely, will be published next fall.

Originally published in the Summer 2003 issue of Boston Review



Copyright Boston Review, 1993–2006. All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce without permission.

 | home | new democracy forum | fiction, film, poetry | archives | masthead | subscribe |