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  • Futures Worth Hanging Onto
  • Francisco Delgado (bio)

Chris Taitano was protesting police brutality in downtown Manhattan, which was exactly the type of thing his family upstate would tease him about—especially because Sam was with him. Sam had a way of getting that kind of reaction from people: like right now, with his extra-emphatic chants of "No Justice, No Peace," and with his head full of colorful dreads, he was catching them looks from other marchers probably wondering who this strange white dude was.

Chris met Sam in college when they shared the mistake of pledging a fraternity. Neither of them made it, but they liked each other enough to become roommates the following year. And liked each other enough to stick around for the years afterward.

Sam had introduced Chris to Lindsey, who Chris would eventually marry and divorce, right after college graduation. Sam waved Chris over to the group of people he was standing with at a party and drunkenly flung his arm around him when Chris joined, "This is my boy, Chris! He's the one from Guam!"

"I didn't actually grow up there," Chris was quick to correct, not that anyone acknowledged him when he said this.

Prior to Chris coming over, Lindsey had been mentioning how her family had gone to Guam on vacation. The topic of the conversation, Chris was told much later, was the strangest places you've visited. Sam had become the unwitting star of the conversation when he joked, "Niagara Falls, the Canadian side."

Sam had also introduced Chris to Haley, who Chris started dating after Lindsey. Sam knew Haley from his PhD program where she was researching decolonization movements in Native North America.

"My dude here's part Iroquois!" Sam had shared.

Haley was researching the Oka Crisis. She was a "settler," she said, which was the first time Chris had heard that term. "So you're Iroquois? Which nation?"

"My grandmother was born at Tonawanda," Chris said. "But she was adopted out when she was young. She met my grandfather in the military. My grandfather is CHamoru, who are—" [End Page 40]

"Yes, from Guam. I'm familiar with the CHamoru," she said, and smiled.

Chris had told Haley she should come with them today, but she hasn't wanted to leave their apartment since the miscarriage. The reason she stayed home was the same reason why Chris had to come: both of them thinking about the futures they lost, both of them thinking about the futures worth hanging onto.

With every block came a new set of barricades and cops. The cops seemed bored, busy joking amongst themselves. Chris looked at some of them, their skin color the same as his, and he saw his cousins. He saw dudes like his dad and his uncles whose uniform was not NYPD but U.S military.

"Everything okay?" Sam asked.

He realized he must have some type of look on his face—"moody" or "sad," as his family would tease. "It's nothing," Chris said.

He kept eyeing some of the cops, and he kept seeing his family, his brown family, his family who included army lifers and airport agents. Who ignored a lifetime of evidence to uphold their belief that "laws are laws" and that if they just followed those laws, they'd be fine.

His family, who could never stand Sam. "Your friend talks too much," they'd said. "Thought college was supposed to introduce you to smart people. How'd you mess that up?"

Chris' family believed it was best to hold your tongue and wait for people to talk themselves into showing how stupid they were. They long believed, and taught Chris to believe, that such quiet victories were worth something.

But if they were being honest, some of them talked too much, too. About how tough they were: "Should've seen the dude. Big and mean, arms the size of your thighs, boy, but he crumpled once I hit him. Pow!" About women: "A dead fish, that one. Just lays there." To Chris about his writing: "You writing about Guam? No one ever calls you out for not knowing what you're doing...

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