Lyin' eyes

Published March 24, 2021

By Carter Wrenn

When I was ten years old walking along a muddy dirt road beside a wide creek at the foot of a hill I glanced down, saw a black tree branch lying in a patch of sunlight in the mud – behind me my gray-haired uncle said, Stop.

A snake reared up in the air in front of me, swaying back and forth – staring into its open mouth I thought, Now I know why they call them cottonmouths. 

To avoid shattering a peaceful spring morning my eyes had misled me – I saw a water moccasin as a harmless tree limb.

Slowly circling around behind the snake, my uncle lifted a shovel lying at the end of a row in a field, chopped off the snake’s head.

Scratching my chin six decades later I watched a politician tick off points: 1) Blacks are more likely to be unemployed than Whites, 2) Blacks are more likely to be homeless than Whites, 3) Blacks are more likely to be infected by coronavirus than Whites – he said those facts, his eyes saw, proved ‘systemic racism.’

I read another article about the Atlanta spa murderer – a politician said, A white man murdered six Asian women, connect the dots, that’s systemic racism. But the same murderer had also shot a white woman, a white man, and a Hispanic man.

On election night Trump watched huge vote swings in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia – he led by huge margins, leads disappeared, his eyes told him, They’re stealing votes.

It’s an old devilment that crosses party lines.

Staring at dots Democrats see racism, Republicans see stolen votes, both think, There’s no doubt about it – I’m right.