Guernica Magazine

No Country

In an excerpt from his new book of essays, Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now, Andre Perry discusses race, identity, moving around the US, and the Midwest. The post No Country appeared first on Guernica.
George Inness, The Wheat Field (c. 1875-1877). he Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert S. Copelin

“That we are in the midst of a crisis is now well understood,” the new president had said earlier at the inauguration to nearly two million people in Washington, DC. The economic crisis clawed at the nation’s confidence. The Great Recession loomed. It was Inauguration Day 2009 and we were in Iowa City. The race had started in Iowa the previous year with the primary caucus. Barack Obama secured a victory in that first, essential contest and many Iowans took pride in the part they had played to launch his pursuit of the presidency. It was late now and we were in the bar. Ethan and Jeffrey practiced lines for their play and I was closing down the back. I washed pint glasses and scrubbed surfaces, lifted stools and turned them upside down on top of the bar.

Ethan leaned into Jeffrey, who was much shorter, and said, “You almost there. Now say that shit like it’s natural.” Ethan was playing Miles Davis and Jeffrey was John Coltrane. The play was scheduled to open in a few days in a small black box theater on campus. We would all be there tucked into seats, watching our friends succeed. Jeffrey wasn’t even an actor. He was an undergraduate writer who read books and drank too much. Ethan had failed to find enough black actors in Iowa City to act in his play about the life of Miles Davis. When he was casting a couple of months earlier, he had come up to me in the bar, laughing, “Dre, we gotta find some niggas or this play gonna be some one-man show shit.”

Becca walked toward

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