Some friends thought they saw the spirit of my book in Bruce Springsteen’s Jeep ad, during the Super Bowl. And I appreciate that.
But I promise you, my book goes deeper than this metaphor, where Springsteen invites everybody to meet up at a tiny church in the middle of Nebraska, that looks just big enough to fit as many Black people as I’ve ever seen at a Springsteen concert.
Did you ever notice that the only people who wring their hands about how “divided” the nation is are white people?
Do you ever hear Black people lamenting about how divided we are? Maybe that’s because to them, “we” seemed more divided before, when there were separate bathrooms and drinking fountains.
Last year I was brought up short by a Black friend after writing a prospective message on behalf of corporate leaders calling for everyone to be the America we all know we want to see. As if there ever was such a singular America for everyone, she pointed out. “I can’t hear your inspiring words right now,” she said.
Much was made of this American moment being what finally drew Bruce Springsteen to make a commercial after decades of principled refusal. He hasn’t said, exactly.
Like Springsteen, I am sure: When I talk about the divisions in this country, I am talking about all of them—not just the divisions among white people. And I hope you are too.
But at the same time, some of us should acknowledge the white obtuseness of our alarm, in a land that’s been divided long before a lot of us started losing sleep over it.
(Look at their faces.)