Yuri and Baraka

I had this crazy dream last night.

Yuri Kochiyama and Amiri Baraka were up in heaven…playing Ronald Reagan and Strom Thurmond in a game of 2-on-2 basketball.

The stakes? Dismantling the segregated institutions of heaven. Why all the clouds gotta be white? Baraka asks. Why all the white angels get the nice harps, and we get these hand-me-down purgatory ukeleles?

The score is tied. 14-14. Next basket wins.

Yuri looks at Baraka like, Don’t worry, my dude. I got this.

She dribbles the ball slowly up the cloudy court. Then, quick as lightning, Yuri puts the ball between her legs, flies over Reagan, karate chops Strom Thurmond in the face with one hand, wipes up his tears with her other hand, does a triple somersault in the air, and dunks the ball so hard, the basket explodes – BOOM! – like the echo of a Harlem gunshot.

Baraka looks over at Yuri, grinning like a well-fed cat. That’s what I’m talking about you, girl. Wish the Knicks knew how to play like that.

From the sideline, Maya Angelou whistles her approval. Phenomenal, she says. Simply phenomenal.

Reagan scrapes himself off the floor, tries to regain his composure. Whatever. Y’all wanna run again?

Yuri looks down to Earth. At her people, her nation of struggle and pain and possibility, still fighting the fight she fought for damn near a century. She just got here, to this city in the stars. Doesn’t she deserve some time to rest her feet?

Maybe later, but right now, she’s staring down the man who drove half her closest friends to jail or drugs or an early grave. And up here, he doesn’t have Secret Service to defend him in the paint. Yuri is more than happy to take it right to him and his buddy Strom. Shit, she could do this forever.

Winner takes ball, she says. Let’s go, Ronnie. Game on.


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