- Chocolate Covered Matzah—5768
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Border patrol pounces. Detained for “secondary inspection.” Examine the car. Exterior. Interior. Undercarriage. Glove compartment. Cup holders. They move to the trunk. Three customs officers sift through the trunk. They pick through the assortment of objects signaling my geographic position, professional intentionalities, organizational habits: a bag of road salt [End Page 47] (a requirement for winter driving in Ontario), shovel (ditto) and the body image educational kit I’d been meaning to introduce to students. Those are the standout contents of the busy trunk. There’s more; if we were to include the spare tire and booster cables. To that we can also add the material evidence of my ongoing efforts to keep the inside of the car tidy—the traces of such efforts providing bumpy cushioning for the shovel, salt, and resource kit.
Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
Old road trip cassettes. A family of mismatched mittens and gloves. Dated city street map books and a larger map of Ontario that I’m not especially adept at reading. Probably why the tri-fold map’s home is in the trunk and not in the more readily-accessible-while-driving glove compartment.
I was crossing the Windsor-Detroit border to purchase chocolate covered matzah for my brother, Sean. Returning home for Pesah, the intention was to bring a small gift for family and friends. …maybe I should have just made it myself.
Place matzah on foiled covered sheet
Peter Hrastovec, Chair of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce, recently claimed, “the future success of our region and the province depends on the free flow of trade and people across this critical border crossing. Every day, over 42,000 commuters, tourists and truck drivers carry $323-million worth of goods cross the Windsor-Detroit border.”1 It hadn’t occurred to me that crossing the border to purchase some matzah would entail a de-grading assault on my psychic life. Perhaps I should have anticipated it. Should have pre-dicted a recognitive struggle at the point of crossing. The risks. The vulnerabilities. The indignities. But border crossing just seemed so commonplace to me. People speak of this border as being one of the most vital trade crossings in North America. Local area stores do not carry the product. Just across the border, however, which is less than 18 minutes away, brings forth a bounty of items Kosher for Pesah.
Melt brown sugar with butter in saucepan.
Some days, like on this day, I wonder why it is that my personhood attracts such unwanted attention and suspicion. I presented the required documents establishing my citizenship, place of birth, and place of residence. Their handling of these papers undermines the supposed officiality of the documents. Government documents can’t be trusted. Nor can I. How is it I become a threat to the security and well-being of others when crossing borders?
Boil until brown sugar and butter mixture coats a spoon. [End Page 48]
Yet I know to think in such ways betrays the lure of disavowal blended with a dose of magical thinking. It’s hope gone awry. I hope that maybe it’s something I could change. My hair. My clothes. But those wistful moments are brief. There is only so long a person can pretend. Race and border crossing. Crossing borders while black. Mixed race more specifically. But then specifics aren’t of interest to them—
Nor is my humanness. They see Black. They perceive security threat. Object of surveillance. Object for surveillance. Two more guards are beckoned to assist in the search. The vicissitudes of recognition—violent, temporal and lived.
Brush matzah with brown sugar mixture.
The enormous sign greeting the stream of vehicles crossing the border and flanked by the American and Canadian flags, reads: “Welcome.”
Border agents’ questions and actions imbued with the plagues of racism and xenophobia betray the partiality of the “welcome” sign. The conviviality of the situation is almost theatrically scripted: detained en route to purchase chocolate covered matzah for Pesah. I don’t laugh. I can’t. The simplicity of parallel plot...