The One Day I Felt like an American

The one day I knew what it was like to be an American was a cold, overcast night in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I had moved from Houston, Texas less than a year before and was feeling the effects of climate change on a brother. I had reacted the way black men do; we survive the initial onslaught and figure out a way to live. That night I was working overnight doing my retail pharmacy thing, filling my patients’ prescriptions and talking to them about their health.

Americans are Very Similar

“Americans are very similar,” was my conclusion after talking to patients for over ten years. The same hopes, fears, and desires cut across all racial and economic lines.

One thing I did notice was that different medications were written for the same medical condition in Houston versus Minneapolis. The differences were slight, though, and reinforced my idea of how tightly bound together Americans are. 

After finishing my shift that night, I wrapped myself in my Eskimo coat. The coat completely encased me in fur and warmth to the point that people could not tell I was Black. I had taken a part-time job as a relief pharmacist north of Minneapolis and, upon arriving for the first time, went to the back of the store to open the pharmacy. When I took off my Eskimo coat, the staff looked surprised. “You’re Black!” I said, “Is that a Problem?”

Is that a Problem?

It wasn’t. Patients just want and need help managing their health. It’s the same help they needed and

New York City with 911 Tribute Light

New York City with 911 Tribute Light

received in Houston.

When I arrived home after that shift, 9-11 was happening, and I was stunned like everyone else. It was unbelievable.

The next night I tried to calm the fears of my patients. When I was asked if fellow Americans did this, I replied, “People underestimate how well we get along.” The fellowship, kindness and togetherness in that time of worry was unknown to me. I hope to have those feelings again, and hopefully, it lasts more than a day.

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