I live in envy. I envy the people who know their nationality. All the people whose nationality has never been a question in their mind.
I can imagine the woman staring at her reflection in the Volta River who knows she’s Ghanaian, like her ancestors who liberated their people in 1957 and chose the mighty pre-colonial Ghana as the name of their new nation. I can imagine the woman flying into Frankfurt who knows she’s German, who knows she’s arriving back home. I can imagine the man working on his antique car outside his home in Biloxi, forehead covered by the prized blood-red baseball cap he purchased at a rally back in November, a man who has never been told, “Go back to your country!” If somehow someone did tell him, it would confuse him as much as it would the Ghanaian or German woman. It would be like someone driving by his house and shouting at him, “Go back to your home!”
That he is at home, that he is in his country, is as much a fact of his existence as the tool clenched in his hand, as the sunrays shooting past the Mississippi trees hovering above his sweaty hat and its four beaming white words.
Nothing is more certain to him than that he is an American—and that I am not. My living here, being born here, and being a citizen here—none of those fine details matter. To him, to millions like him, to their white-nationalist father in the White House, I am not an American. They want me to prove, like all the Barack Obamas, that I’m really an American.