Grandma always told me that white people smelled like wet dog.
And every time I tried to interject, and call her out on a lie she would say that the only thing that comes from back-talking old folk, was an ass whooping. Aunt Cheryl tells me she doesn’t mean to talk so much shit about the white folk but we all knew that was a lie too.
I remember the stories she’d tell about them coming to take grandpa. How five of them barricaded the front door. How they snarled. Bucked. Exposed teeth to unfold his weaknesses. They didn’t even read him his rights, just told him he had the right to shut the fuck up and say goodbye to his pitiful life and nigger children.
And it never mattered what he did, what any of us did, grandma would say, we were niggers, and that was enough justification.
I remember Aunt Cheryl told me how daddy wept silently in the corner. How he was too scared to step in front of the porcelain antique lamp that illuminated the living room like a spotlight because he didn’t want to be seen.
How he thought they’d take him too.
Grandma still describes the stench after they left. Wet damp integrity, mildew smell of fear, sour taste of day old rain; what freedom really tastes like.