Ellipses know too much, do not know what they know, know nothing, and produce knowingness. What is the knowledge economy of ellipses? What is the duration of the elliptical? What is knowledge after ellipses?
Foucault teaches me that profiling is taxonomy: coding for threat. Perhaps all taxonomy has always been about coding for threat. What is most threatening? Who is most threatening? How can threat be managed?
My visa expires. It expires again. And again. I keep explaining that a visa is an entry and exit document. An expired visa is threatening. Few of those monitoring my visa dates know how visas work. I keep explaining to those who don’t need to know, to those who insist they know, to those who refuse to hear my knowing that I know what the law says. My visa is expired.
To be in this now—this Kenya-U.S-now—is to navigate censorship. Things I cannot say as a holder of a visa. Things I cannot demand: equal protection under the law; a voice in how to read this moment; a claim to rights. Nothing has been said. Perhaps I misread the tea leaves. Things I cannot say as a particular kind of Kenyan: one who lives abroad, one privileged by ethnicity and education, one marked as dangerous. People with names “like mine” and backgrounds “like mine” are saying and doing terrible things. I do not know what to say, how to respond, how to forge alliances, how to undo the weight of privilege I did not earn, that my saying exercises, that my silence exercises.
I write U.S. or U.S.A., because I don’t want to cede “us.” To be here is to inhabit a strange provinciality where “we” and “us” is constantly invoked, as perhaps it is all over. Every time I hear “we” and “us” I shrivel a little. I have still not learned how not to flinch. How not to hear “nation” and “culture” and “not you” when I see US. That scream of unbelonging, the chant of patriotism. U.S.A.
U.S.A.: “where are you from”?
Kenya: “where are you from”?
One is squeezed into place, adhesiveness produced by prolonged contact, sometimes not of one’s making. Attachment produced as habit, as refuge, as tropism. The crooked plant is seeking light. The stuck-in-place object is pressed on constantly. To be un-stuck, to be un-pressed, to be ripped from place. Even this causes pain. And might not be freedom.
The imprecision of emergent forms, the vertigo of precarity, the fear of saying the wrong thing, the unwelcome thing, the dangerous thing.
To continue as before, to believe that repetition produces normalcy, to read the normative as the inevitable, to be habituated, to resist disruption, to pursue peace, to flee definition.
If you hide, stay silent, squeeze into a corner, stay in your house, refuse the endangering social, it might take them a little longer to find you, detain you, arrest you, monitor you, disappear you.
“where were you born”?
“when did you come here”?
“why did you come here”?
E.T. was a film about immigrants as tracked, trackable, monitored, and endangered. Discuss.
How do the “unfree” discuss “the land of the free”?
In whispers and in silence.