Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah is a long and winding love story, unavoidably about race:
“I mean ‘nigger is a word that exists. People use it. It is part of America. It has caused a lot of pain to people and I think it is insulting to bleep it out. (168) Ifemelu wanted, suddenly and desperately, to be from the country of people who gave and not those who received, to be one of those who had and could therefore bask in the grace of having given, to be among those who could afford copious pity and empathy. (209)
One of Adichie’s devices, which works to varying effect, is the citation of Ifemelu’s blog: Dear Non-American Black, when you make the choice to come to America, you become black. Stop arguing. Stop saying I’m Jamaican or I’m Ghanian. America doesn’t care. (273) Later, on the train to Essex, he noticed that all the people around him were Nigerians, loud conversations in Yoruba and Pidgin filled the carriage, and for a moment he saw the unfettered non-white foreignness of this scene through the suspicious eye of the white women on the tube. (320)
Ranting isn’t enough. Neither is reason nor wit. We need more. We need vision. We need fury. We need the Anti-Trump. While the comedians do try – Bee, Colbert, Oliver, Noah – they always fail in looking for a laugh, such as Trevor Noah’s recent quip to alt-right spinster Tomi Lahren’s stating, “I don’t see color”: What do you do at a traffic light?
Elizabeth Warren is on the right track: Trump is not draining the swamp, nope. He’s inviting the biggest, ugliest swamp monsters in the front door, and he’s turning them loose on our government and our economy.But her rhetoric is too measured, too precise. The Anti-Trump must stare into the hateful void to find the words to break the spell.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie seems to have the right stuff: The election of Donald Trump has flattened the poetry in America’s founding philosophy: the country born from an idea of freedom is to be governed by an unstable, stubbornly uninformed, authoritarian demagogue. Now is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism; it allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility. Now is not the time to tiptoe around historical references. Recalling Nazism is not extreme; it is the astute response of those who know that history gives both context and warning. (The New Yorker Magazine, Nov.30/16)
Yes, now is the time.