PRINT October 1987


X marks the spot.

COMING BACK FROM New Jersey on a bus recently, I was sitting behind a small group of black high school students, one of whom said to another, “My great-grandmother was a slave.” The friend replied, “My grandfather was one too, I think,” after which conversation broke into teenage tidbits of dating miscellanea and consumer reports about the availability and cost of personal accessories. The exchange surprised me because it had been uttered precisely the way a Junior Leaguer might say. “My mother was presented during the Christmas season,” with a socially shakier friend responding a bit too eagerly, “Mine too. I think”—you think? The bus, poking along through New Jersey townships, had moments before passed an ideally prim DAR cemetery, which I had registered in actual, formulated words to myself—simplistically, no doubt—as a burial ground for dead white racists.

One sits in the back of

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