I know you’re probably too old for bedtime stories at this point, but just humor Uncle Rick for a minute. You can lay there and listen.
You know the story. It’s not about the end of the world. It’s about the end of America…
“Happy fourth!” Akeem shouted as he joined us on the hill. He was carrying a cooler of drinks and that’s all I cared about.
“Lemme see what you got here, fam,” I said, opening the cooler.
“Where’s your sister?” he asked me.
“Serena?” I looked around the crowd for your mother, but couldn’t see her. It didn’t help that most of the crowd was white and Asian. Me and Akeem were some of the few black people sitting on this side of the Hudson River.
“Here I am,” she said suddenly, popping out behind me.
“Uncle Rick!” you cried, jumping on my back.
“There’s my favorite niece!” I said, spinning you around.
“Look what Daddy got me!” you said, pointing at your red, white and blue elephant hat.
“Nice,” I forced myself to laugh. “Real patriotic.”
“What’d you bring?” Akeem asked your mother.
She opened the giant Tupperware box she was holding and showed off six neat rows of red-white-and-blue homemade Oreos.
“Yooooo,” Akeem laughed. “Where did white people learn how to bake like that? The only thing black people can bake is brownies. You know what I’m sayin’?”
I reached in to grab one and she shut it real quick and almost chopped my fingers off.
“What are you doing?” I asked her.
“Not until the fireworks start,” she told me. Then she sat down on the grass.
I rolled my eyes. “Always gotta be Miss Perfect, huh?”
I was about to sit down, but somebody bumped into me and almost knocked me off my feet.
“Yo, who the—” I turned around, ready to swing at whatever stupid stranger was shoving me. And then I saw that it was your father and I almost swung anyway.
“Watch where you’re going, Mark,” I told him.
But he just laughed and dropped down on the grass next to you and your mom.
“Yeah,” Akeem said, popping open a can of Sprite. “Or Serena’ll knock you out. Remember in high school when she got suspended, Rick? Them white chicks called you a nigger and Serena came in lookin’ like Ronda Rousey. That left hook came in with a quickness.”
Your mother and I laughed as we remembered.
“Keep pushing me like that,” I told your father.
“I don’t know why her parents adopted you,” your father said, taking a swig of his beer.
And honestly, Mary, I’m trying not to make him sound like a jerk in this story, but you know your Dad. Trying to make him sound nice is like trying to make Mother Teresa sound like a stripper. It can’t be done.
“Mark!” your mother shouted at him. “What’d we talk about?”
Your father chuckled then took another swig.
“And I don’t know why my sister married you,” I muttered.
Sorry, Mary. Your mother was the picture of everything right with America. But your father was the picture of everything wrong with it.
“I thought you were bringing a girl, Keem,” your mother said, shifting the subject like a ninja.
“See, what had happened was,” Akeem started. “…turned out she already had a man.”
“Oh wow,” I said. “She was playing you like that?”
“I can’t believe she lied to me,” Akeem sucked his teeth.
I scoffed. “You mad? Weren’t you just gonna have sex and ditch her anyway?”
“But she still lied, though,” he pouted.
Your father laughed. “At least she wasn’t Mexican.”
I shook my head. “Bro, you are the most racist person I’ve met. Like, that was unprovoked.”
“I’m just sayin’,” your father kept going. “We only got half the wall built. Until that other half is done, we gotta deal with these wetbacks slipping in left and right.”
“Wetbacks?” I squinted at him. “Who even says that? You got like Websters dictionary level racism.”
“I’m just sayin’, man! You’re better off being with a tran than with some Aztec-looking, Spanish-spitting, bean-farting rapists.”
“Mark!” your mother shouted. And it looked like she was about to smack him across the face. I wish she would. Cuz I knew I wasn’t about to. Not with a crowd of white dudes watching us. But I wish somebody would put this guy in his place. How does nonsense like that go unchecked?
Your father scoffed then muttered, “At least I apologized when I raped my daughter.”
We all sat there in silence. Akeem took another sip of Sprite, I shook my head, and your mother ran her hand through her hair.
“When’s it gonna start?” you finally asked.
“Probably in—” I was about to answer, but a voice came over some loudspeakers and interrupted me.
“People of America,” it said. “My name is Kamama.”
We all sat up and looked around, waiting for some kind of parade to start or something.
“This is new,” Akeem said. “They got some kind of concert? Kamama’s a new rapper or something?”
“Sounds foreign,” your father sucked his teeth. “If he starts speaking Spanish, we’re leaving.”
But it wasn’t a concert. And it wasn’t in Spanish. It was something that was gonna change everything forever.
“400 years ago my people lost their freedom,” Kamama kept going. “This year, you’ll lose yours. For 400 years you’ve lived on the land you stole from the Natives without thinking twice about what you’ve done. This land belongs to those who walked it before you and this year we will take it back. You killed my people with disease and now we’ll return the favor. All citizens of European descent have one year to evacuate the continent. If you don’t, I’ll unleash a virus that will kill you all. Blacks, Latinos, and Asians will be spared as long as you join us and adopt our culture. But if you refuse, strains of the virus will be released that will kill you as well. One year. That is all you get. This is not revenge. This is restitution. Happy Independence Day.”
And once he was done, the fireworks went off. It was like he had it planned all along. We were all shook and had no idea what to do. We found out later that the message had gotten played in every city in America.
“Well, I’m glad that’s over,” your father yawned, pretending that he was waking up. Then he raised his bottle in the air as the fireworks kept going. “God bless America.”
“Was that some kind of prank?” your mother asked.
“Probably,” I said. And since everyone else around us was smiling and laughing at the fireworks now, it looked like they thought it was too.
But we should’ve listened. Cuz we weren’t ready for what happened next…