These are two of several nonfiction shorts based on the life of a political activist.
Growing up with parents in the Movement was a beast of burden. My father was more beast and my mother his burden. It doesn't matter which social movement it was. My family was an exercise is civil disobedience. Whether battling imperialism, consumerism, or Jim Crow it was the Movement that became a living breathing family member. The third child of my parents was called Apartheid making us a family of five… one girl, one boy and one relic of colonialism.
Apartheid came to dinner with us. It drank from our glasses, dripped from our lips, hijacked our thoughts, tainted our conversations and divided my heart. I didn't know at the time but this other child that lived loudest amongst my family members would catapult one of us into prime time politics, a revolution televised. And somewhere behind the interviews, protests, newspaper clippings and popularity a divorce was stirring though my parents would only live a mile or two from one another all of D.C. would be split down the middle when they separated.
I remember the sound of my father's voice over the telephone.
He is telling me that he will spend this Thanksgiving in jail. He is reminding me that everything is fine; he is in control of the situation. He is telling me that he spent his one phone call on my brother and me. The conversation is short and since my parents are getting divorced we will spend the entire holiday at my mother's house. We don't have to worry about spending half of the day with her and half of the day with our father. We will not have to worry that one parent is alone, waiting for the two of us to return "home." I feel relieved at the thought of a no-pressure holiday, however I cannot help but be angry with him again.
I watch the news. My father is walking in circles on channel 9 and 4 and 7. The cameras' unsteady eye catches a corner of his afro or his winter coat or the picket sign he didn't paint. My father is not alone but I don't care that Mary Francis Berry, Walter Fauntroy, and Tony Randall will join him in the back of a police car. And today I don't even care that protesters in front of the embassy have done little to change apartheid. I really just want to know that my father will come home and leave the messy work of politics to someone else. Like so many times before I think that South Africa too can wait…but then my mother calls me to Thanksgiving dinner and history is being made while the three of us eat.
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