By Nora Seilheimer
From issue 22.2 of Fourth Genre
If you travel with a fear of flying, mental health experts recommend that you hold fast to the facts. Remind yourself of statistics that show that the most dangerous part of your travel day is the car ride to or from the airport. Remember that the chances of you being involved in a plane crash are one in three million. Don’t let the media’s recent focus on airline disasters condition you to believe that you’re next. Take a deep breath. Fasten your seatbelt. Clear skies ahead.
If you’re a mixed couple living with a fear of racial violence, Joe and I recommend holding fast to the facts as well, but don’t get your hopes up. While you might interpret someone’s microaggression accurately, or your injustice radar might turn your insides up to a boil, it’s crucial that you stick to The Plan, the one you and your partner devised the second you realized it was too risky to keep loving each other without one. Here’s Our Plan for reference:
Should a situation arise in which Joe is in danger, I will record everything on my phone, following suit of so many, too many Black mothers, sisters, wives, aunties, and friends. I will swipe up from the bottom of my locked screen the way Joe taught me so I don’t lose time entering my six-digit security code. With my phone in hand, I will place my white body in front of Joe’s Black body like a shield. I will let my white tears hit the ground like bombs. Joe will shapeshift. He will get small. He will make his six feet and three inches as close to invisible, impenetrable as possible. Joe won’t say a word. Joe will keep breathing. He will keep breathing. Keep breathing. We won’t let an endless video stream of authority figures murdering Black men condition either of us to believe that Joe is next because he’s not he’s not he is not next.
Nora Seilheimer is a Michigander and writer living in New Orleans. She is the former Associate Editor of Bayou Magazine and Co-Director of Project Peaceful Warriors. She is currently working on a memoir-in-essays about whiteness and motherhood. Her work is published with Fourth Genre, Midwestern Gothic, and Longleaf Review among others. Her work has also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, the Malcolm Magaw Award, the GCACWT Nonfiction Award, was selected for the DIAJ Award and has been supported by the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and Twisted Run Retreat. Find her on Twitter @nslhmr.