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  • Put down your iPhone, turn off Fox News. msnbc and CNN too. If you are white, take the A train to Dyckman or your Prius to Watts. Exit the subway station in Harlem. Resist the temptation to lock the car door as you cruise past Sobato Rodia's steeple. Pray.

    I am taking the plantation tour in Charleston even though my B&B hosts said they tell both sides of the story. "Do they do that at Auschwitz too?" I shouldn't have watched Django Unchained before coming South.

    I ask the docent how many black bodies rest in unmarked graves under these acres of carefully trimmed lawns. "Oh hundreds," she says, as the tour group shuffles away from me. I am embarrassing them. "Why are there only five tombstones in the slave cemetery" earns me an icy glare from the woman who travelled here from Norway. "We don't look for them," says the tour guide, launching into an upbeat description of the ladies' dressing rooms, one for summer, one for winter before directing our attention to the Articles of Confederation hung over the fireplace in the smoking room. Our guide never says slave. She says servant. I say "slave, right?" The man from Minnesota, shakes his head in irritation and walks into the next room. I can't help myself. We are standing over a charnel house. It's 2013 and the only black bodies visible are laboring in the gardens.

    Afterwards, an ample bosomed woman smelling of talcum powder sells me the only book a breaking heart could buy - Slave Narratives recorded during the Great Depression by anthropologists hired by the NRA. I've walked to the plantation bookstore with the ruddy-faced man in camo. I say "they elided an entire people's history from the narrative." He says "if they wanted their own history, they shoulda writ it tessselves."

    Wherever you are, look up. Be still. There are caskets going by.

    300 words. 30 minutes.

    "What times are these when a poem about trees is almost a crime because it includes silence against so many outrages". Bertolt Brecht
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