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  • Sanjana Senthil

Not Their America

The news is telling me today is a bleak day. I know it’s telling me it’s bleak because it’s telling me that now is the time to fight and that we must use our voices. The news is double-faced like that. It’ll tell me that something terrible has happened, and it’ll spin around and tell me that there is so much I should do, as an American, as if we now must clean up our lawmakers' messes. I’m sitting on the couch when I find out, tapping through instagram stories. It goes like my new post!, volleyball tournament, Carolina came out!, and Roe vs. Wade has been overturned.

Roe vs. Wade has been overturned.

Roe vs. Wade has been overturned.

Roe vs. Wade has been overturned.

I can’t tell if I’m shocked. I can’t tell if I’m worried. I’m feeling it, though, that quelling sense of wrong man’s justice and urge to vomit and scream, and to tell somebody so I know how to feel. Amma calls me. Says to bring her coffee, and I think that she hasn’t heard the news. I tell her, and she’s silent. I think she hasn’t heard me and I say it again, with more feeling. She hums, and asks for coffee. I make the coffee. She didn’t hear me. They won’t hear me. This is America. This is the American dream.

An hour later, we’re in the car. We’re driving to a friend’s place, and Amma is talking to Appa on the phone. She’s angry, and says that we should all move to New Zealand, that it’d be good to get out of this country. I look out of the window, into this country, and I see the church. The cross high in the sky. It reminds me that everyone is not angry about this, that there are some that will wake up tomorrow and go to Sunday service and will feel no change and will continue being American. They’ll say that this is god’s will, that it is murder to kill a fetus. Do they know it’s murder to shoot and kill children? Do they know it’s murder to kill those with uteruses? It’s not about their god and it’s not about their bible, but they’re telling me it is. The law is telling me it is.

It’s funny to think that it was only a few years ago at a choir rehearsal, where we sang Proud to be an American by Lee Greenwood. That in the 5th grade I might’ve been “proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.” Do I know that? That “there ain’t no doubt, I love this land.” This land of hatred. This land of division. This land where children are shot dead in schools and lawmakers send apology letters, but overturn a pregnant person’s constitutional right to their own body and choice. God bless the USA.

Those that can get pregnant are angry, actors are angry, activists are angry, and I’m thinking if I’m even allowed to be angry. Not as if I’m going to go get pregnant. But it’s that feeling that if I were to, it’d be the end of my story. Then I’m another victim of the American Legal System. I’m another bloodstain on the hands of Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett and others. I want to shake them and ask is this what you wanted? Is this America? I want to tell Clarence Thomas that I feel ill when I see his face, want to make sure Brett Kavanaugh knows he’s a coward, want to tell Amy Coney Barrett that she has failed people with uteruses everywhere. But I can only tell their inboxes and voicemails. This is America. This is my voice, amplified by feeling and anger and love while theirs are amplified by hatred and religion and law.

Moments from the past few days like these remind me of everything I have ever thought of America. I’m an American, but not like Lee Greenwood is an American. I have rights, but not like men have rights. I’m free, but there are star-spangled shackles on my wrists where there aren’t on Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. And I’ve come to realize that this was America, this is America, but this won’t become America. Because when I scroll on instagram, and I see angry

people and changemaking people and sad people and Americans using their muffled mics, I see a better America coming. I see America as it always is before so-called “radical” change. I see America in chaos. But I feel America on the precipice of our America. Not their America.

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