The road we’ve paved is magnificent and dominant: It covers the country’s plains,
It bores holes through the largest of mountains,
It marches through marshes and saunters through swamps—
The road we pride ourselves on can even walk on water
We have claimed the land as ours,
Nevermind the howling of the wind and trembling of the earth.
But the ubiquitous and superfluous pavement,
Which seeps to the corners of the terrain like a spilled glass of water consumes a dry rag, Becomes distinct
When every bone in your body jolts at the sudden
Badump. Badump. Badump. Badump.
At the turn of a corner or exit off of a ramp, You have entered a unique domain.
Depressing divots in our history so divine—
Welcome to the Palmetto State,
Where potholes are our prerequisite.
The craters here are so common that we treat them like cracks in a sidewalk— Inconveniences at most,
Consistent at the very least,
And a required feature in every path we construct.
So let’s start at the foundation of South Carolina,
Where the masters cultivated cash crops
And sold slaves like sacks of flour—
One of the first bumps in this road:
The blood on the floor has been washed away.
In fact, the hardwood has probably been waxed and polished
So the scuff marks of the past cannot invade your current reflection.
The property decorated with signs,
Halls bound with velvet rope, And walls covered in plaques—
These plantations continue to rake in cash for their original owners,
But now with tours and parties and banquets.
That bump in the road was the beginning of the economic disparity that is pervasive
Throughout the Palmetto State.
Decades of degradation and Jim Crow
Have split South Carolina into Black and white.
You cannot drive anywhere in the State
Without feeling this stark separation.
Badump. Badump. Badump. Badump.
The road we’ve paved is a river that cuts through canyons:
A malignant canal, eroding both sides,
Separating and obstructing—slowly, meticulously, distending the divide.
With an exhausted education system,
A pernicious policing institution,
And government that
Villainizes vaccination while romanticizing the state of our nation,
The list of the holes we’ve dug goes on and on.
So ask me to improve South Carolina and I’d give the obvious answer: Mend our discordant roads. Mark the divots and depressions. Let everyone see our follies so no one falls in these again. Educate the people. Teach everyone where these potholes have come from. Understanding where we started is the only way for us to rebuild what we’ve torn apart. Then, fill the potholes. Gather the asphalt and concrete and pour it into our wounds. And finally, continuously, keep watch over our roads. There is no way for us to prevent the rain from falling—from seeping into every nook and cranny and eroding our hard work and creating new canyons—we can only repair.
We should not be proud of the holes we’ve dug. We should not feel safe having to swerve our cars around the sea of craters. And most of all, we should not sit still. To wait is to aid in others’ suffering. To watch idly is to forget our part. And if we are complacent? Well, then we are truly no better than the rain.