CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE: So basically in the US, it’s very hard for white people in general to get what it means to be black in America. It’s the same country, it’s the same country in many ways, but I just find that’s it’s very interesting. And the few instances where I talk to white people who really get race, it’s often because they’ve loved a black person, and deeply loved a black person.
ZADIE SMITH: Well maybe we could think of not just as the literal romance between white and black people but as a radical, philosophical idea, right? Instead of just tolerating your neighbor, you love them. You don’t have to move in with them, marry them, and have children, but you find a way to love them.
CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE: But, but there’s a version of American love that I don’t mean, right? I mean sorry but really. There’s a kind of American love where people just are not really connected. You’re supposed to be comfortable and you know you can be in love in this country and still be expected if you go out to individually pay for your own food, right? You know I come from a culture where loves means you all go out and one person pays for everyone and on the next day one person for everybody else, but in the US even if you’re in love you’re like [looks down at palm as if she were scrutinizing a bill and speaks in an American accent], “Now did you have the calamari?” Even going beyond romantic love, just the idea of trying to imagine. I suppose it’s difficult, I suppose it is, trying to imagine what’s it like to be someone else. Right and also, I don’t know, America fascinates me because I think there’s a willful, almost like a willful denial of history. I keep thinking how can white people not get it if you know the history of America.
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“So like, right now for example. The Haitians need to come to America. But some people are all, “What about the strain on our resources?” Well it’s like when I had this garden party for my father’s birthday, right? I put R.S.V.P. ‘cause it was a sit-down dinner. But some people came that like did not R.S.V.P. I was like totally buggin’. I had to haul ass to the kitchen, redistribute the food, and squish in extra place settings. But by the end of the day it was, like, the more the merrier. And so if the government could just get to the kitchen, rearrange some things, we could certainly party with the Haitians. And in conclusion may I please remind you it does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty. Thank you very much.”