Box Voice


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Image of Summer 2020

I lived in America. My family has been featured many times in magazines and newspapers. We are nothing special. Yet, we’ve been photographed because we showed up at the right time, at the right place. And maybe because I wore hijab. And maybe because my husband has won awards. And maybe because my children are bi-racial.

America is the place where anyone can end up in the newspaper, especially if they are a minority or if they have discovered something important. They can be number one for a while.

America has invested a lot in scientists and, actually, many American scientists are not American at all. One third of Nobel price laureates are foreign-born. They come from somewhere else in the world. People in the world have given America their reputation. Foreigners have made America strong. Minorities have made America great.

Almost half of the population in the USA is non-white, yet they are given no voice.

Actually, we have a voice, not as individuals, but as representatives of our subgroup. We are often dehumanized or seen as a group. We are blacks or Muslims or Hispanics or laureates. We fit a box. The box needs a voice on top of the label and the voice has to be able to talk for the entire box. One voice fits all. Buy one and you get one for free.

It is a power. It is a weakness. If a born-again member beats her child in a parking lot, the entire born-again congregation is accused of teaching its members violence against children. One voice speaks for all because there is really no single, individual voice in America.

People need clear cut rules, clear cut laws. Everybody needs to fit in the neat box. People need to relate. If they can’t relate, they need to be able to talk about a group and have concrete rules to relate to that group. If you can’t relate, no one listens.

It’s a group culture.

Everyone belongs to a group and when they can’t put you in a group, they put you in a box: liar.

America is a country of boxes. I hoped to belong to at least one box for a very long time. But then I belonged to too many sub-cultures and fitted in too many boxes. So, I stayed out of all boxes and was granted my own box: liar.

I couldn’t fit neatly in a box, so no box took me in.

And I’m not the only one. 60 % of Americans are lonely up to YouGov, 2020. 43% think that their relationships are not meaningful. Probably because, to be meaningful, they need to belong to a box and be absorbed in it.

 America is where we are number one for a while and maybe not for the right reasons.

I have been their number one for some people because I listened to them.

It’s the loneliest of places and anyone who listens is welcome to listen and not speak.

I lived in America and now millions of voices are heard at once. I am not longer one of those voices, but I understand these voices need to be heard as a choir, not as lead singers.

So here is my America. Great and not so great. Strong and weak. And it grew on me.

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