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City Summer, Country Summer

  • June 06, 2020

Black boys from Mississippi know the Black boys from New York. When we were young, their parents sent them down south one summer. We were as afraid of calling them beautiful as we were of calling them by their real names.

If they were Chaka, Marcus, Stephon, Akil or Damon, we called them New York. Whether we were from Jackson, Memphis, Birmingham or Atlanta, they called us country. They were quick. We were fast. We were strong. They were tough. They talked with their hands. We listened with our chests. We were singular people — New York and I — but we were also representations of actual distinct places, and every meaty assumption that those two places hold.

We were Mississippi Black boys visiting Grandmama. They were New York Black boys visiting Mama Lara. All of us were they. All of us were them. By the end of one Saturday in the summer, New York Black boys and Mississippi Black boys wandered through woods, and woulds and coulds, through the kind of freeing friendship that is love.

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