On a rainy evening, November 27, 2016, Saphronia and her nephew - now an adopted son - sit by the fireside, as they sink deep into a pool of conversation. Saphronia has played a vital role in Sammy’s life, since the passing of his mother, Simone, to breast cancer, 15 years ago, at 26 years of age. Today, his 19th birthday, Sammy’s eyes are set on better discovering the vast volume of time and space ahead of him. Alongside the surrogate-mother and son relationship that has developed over the years, Sammy has also come to see Saphronia as the teacher he never had. Though a 20-year veteran of the academy, she is currently devoted to the re-education of younger Black students - including her nephew - through independent pedagogical facilities. As they reflect inside this West Virginian duplex, emotion shortly becomes the potter that molds and shapes their thoughts:
Sammy: … But… But… He said he was bringing change! His exact words were: “Change is on the way.” He tricked us! He tricked us! I can’t believe it: Eight years flushed down the latrine of history - just like that!
Saphronia: What do you mean he tricked us?
Sammy: I mean - he lied! He did everything he said he wouldn’t do - went against his word!
Saphronia: What specifically did he promise to do, which he failed to accomplish?
Sammy: Health care, the Iraq & Afghanistan wars, poverty, social security - everything!
Saphronia: I’m not sure you were actually listening to his words, when he spoke.
Sammy: I was. I read his speeches, and watched them, too. I loved watching them. He had an uncanny ability to communicate directly with whatever audience he was speaking to.
Saphronia: And you heard him promise single-payer healthcare; an end of the Iraq & Afghanistan wars, with a full withdrawal of troops; an agenda against poverty; and a de-privatization of social security?
Sammy: It was implied! He alluded to it… I mean, he didn’t have to mention those programs, by name.
Sammy: Because he was trying to get elected.
Saphronia: And what happened the second time around - with his soaring popularity and a Republican ticket like Sarah Palin/Alan Keyes?
Sammy: I guess the people failed.
Saphronia: Which people?
Sammy: The leaders.
Saphronia: Who did they fail?
Sammy: Themselves, along with the communities they represented.
Saphronia: Can’t the “communities” think for themselves?
Sammy: I don’t know. I - They - The problem is -
Saphronia: I don’t mean to assume superiority, but I can’t honestly claim to be shocked by anything he -
Sammy: What I still can’t believe, was how he let loose a battalion of private contractors on his own people! His own people! I mean, that’s beyond me! Your own people! Without Kenya, there’s no him! Without that East African soil, there would never have been -
Saphronia: Why is it so hard to believe he carried out the AFRICOM agenda?
Sammy: Because, they’re his people - his skin! Flesh and blood is thicker than politics - I thought!
Saphronia: Well, where there any protests to deter his plan?
Sammy: Yes - plenty!
Sammy: On the internet. There were petitions filed, articles written, letters mailed, and thousands of signatures to -
Saphronia: Son, technology is no substitute for human will - especially in a life-or-death crisis!
Sammy: But does that excuse the unmolested slaughter of tens of thousands of precious lives? Lives lost to “rid the world of terror” - evil?
Saphronia: I disagree. The U.N. lady said it was “humanitarian intervention.” I don’t know. That seemed believable to me!
Sammy: You can’t possibly be making light of the lives lost in that senseless non-war over -
Saphronia: Some things are too bitter to be cried about...
Sammy: The level of disrespect is what astounded me most. They - the soldiers - went into individual houses, huts, villages, and, in broad daylight, in full view of TV cameras, took shotguns to the heads of innocent people. What could they have done to deserve such inhumane treatment?!
Saphronia: Son, I hate to break it to you, but the system runs on autopilot.
Sammy: What do you mean?
Saphronia: I mean, a map is drawn out, and incorporated - regardless of who’s flying the plane.
Sammy: But he was the first Black president! He made history! He looked different - from the first 43.
Saphronia: Different does not mean deficient. Plus, looks can be deceiving -
Sammy: It wasn’t just the look - it was something else: His mannerisms, style, speech, tone, composure, behavior, character, etc. - all different.
Saphronia: But I didn’t hear the word, “substance.”
Sammy: What difference does it make?
Saphronia: Sometimes, the pilot’s role is inconsequential - just a prop to keep at bay the worries and anxieties of flight travelers.
Sammy: But he was a “new face.”
Saphronia: Of what use is a new face to an old body?