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Classic Psrhea: Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

 

This is the first in a series of reprints from the groundbreaking Psrhea Magazine literary website. This article saw first published in August 1996.

Out Of Sight,
Out Of Mind

Makes Me Wanna Hollar
by Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man

I was sitting outside the television station where I work, under a tree trying to shade myself from an oppressive early spring heatwave one afternoon. Cooling off on the lawn near the side door of the station, I noticed two co-workers walk out having a very quiet conversation. Both of them white, one female, they stole a quick glance at me and continued their conversation, oblivious to my presence. I could overhear them talking about an upcoming studio production they were planning, and the conversation turned to who they were considering getting to direct.

After bantering about a few names they would ask, my name was mentioned by the male. The female replied to her co-producer, “I think we can ask *&^%$#@ now if he’ll do it. I seem to recall seeing him here somewhere.” She and her partner then proceeded to glance around for me, remembering that I was outside the building yet not remembering where they had seen me just a few short moments before, and absolutely unconscious of the fact that I was right under they’re noses.

I waited a few precious seconds, while they just totally overlooked my plane of existence, before I spoke up. Taken aback by my sudden appearance, the male exclaimed, “Oh, *&^%$#@, there you are.”

Hide in plain sight – I am The Invisible Man

…But I didn’t just get this way because of a lab experiment gone awry. I’ve been this way all of my life. I just wasn’t acknowledged until Ralph Ellison discovered me and gave countless others like me a life. I call it Invisible Man Syndrome – IMS for short. It is an affliction particularly characteristic to North America…

…You know us, the ones brought here centuries ago against our will, then cast aside as so much rubbish when we demanded recognition as human beings, with the right to participate in this society just like anybody else. Well, that is when we ceased to exist. Don’t acknowledge the problem and there is no problem —

Out of sight, out of mind.

But it’s not just me and people like me. Ralph Ellison just scratched the tip of the iceberg when he discovered that it was sometimes convenient for society to think of me and people like me as invisible. Take a look around, though, and you discover that there are several subsections of the population who are not thought of.

Ever notice how it is that you never really hear about Native Americans much any more. This society has succeeded in putting them on reservations and isolating them from the rest of the world. So much so that Native Americans have the highest mortality rate of any group of people on this continent.

Did you know that? I’ll bet not…

Out of sight, out of mind.

Ever notice how people avert their eyes when they see a homeless person, or ignore them when they ask for a little change? We then demand from our elected officials that we “do something about the homeless.” Not “something about the problem of homelessness.” We demand that laws be passed deterring the homeless from soliciting us, hoping that they will just go away…

Out of sight, out of mind.

Ever notice how a neighborhood watch program will take a stand to drive the neighborhood crack house out of business, oblivious to the fact that the crack house has not been put out of business, they’ve just been driven into another neighborhood?…

Out of sight, out of mind.

Same with prostitution. You never really get rid of it, but the police crack down on where they do business, and get enough of them off the streets long enough for a big convention to take place in the city. Then, as soon as said convention ends, back on the streets go the ladies of the evening…

Out of sight, out of mind.

Recently, the “problem of the moment” has been homosexuality, same-sex marriages, and gays in the military. This would not have been a problem if those that think this is a problem had not been so concerned about what we do with our orgasms. Having concerned themselves with such high-minded things, however, they want to legislate them out of existence, claiming things “were so much better when they were in the closet…”

Out of sight, out of mind.

When voicing this to a group of lunchtime friends once, a nearby eavesdropper — whom I’d never seen before, will never see again, and was neither directly nor indirectly a part of the conversation — felt it his “patriotic duty” to straighten me out by rudely interrupting my conversation with: “You know, you could be living someplace else like Iran or North Korea. You wouldn’t have the right to say any of this stuff. Is this the greatest country in the world?”

Perturbed, I looked up at the interloper and replied, “You know, this probably is, but that’s just like being the best player on the Los Angeles Clippers. When was the last time anybody mistook him for any good?”

* The title is borrowed from the book Makes Me Wanna Holler, authored by Nathan McCall of the Washington Post. We give credit where credit is due, and we certainly think that Mr. McCall’s book title certainly conveys how the author of this article feels about his subject matter.

Makes Me Wanna Holler is a regular feature of Pshrea, penned by a guest writer each month. The identity of the Invisible Man of the month will remain just that.

Copyright 1996 Accurate Letters Enterprises/Psrhea Magazine

Hammered Parrot

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