Deshaun Washington-Jefferson pedaled his dirt bike down the streets of Detroit. The mean, mean streets, he thought, and cursed for the fifth time that day his lot to be born Black in a White world.
Instead of taking the street corner route, he cut through one of the many empty fields that exist here in the diverse city, with only the foundation of a house or business long gone remaining in a sea of weeds, trash, debris, and failed dreams.
As Deshaun jumped the bike over a suspiciously-corpse sized earth berm, something caught his eye in a stack of pornographic magazines, job applications, tax papers, welfare assessments, and police reports. “What the heck…?” he said.
When his dark hands withdrew from the heap, he held in them what he thought was some kind of gold teapot. “Man, I just won the lottery,” he crowed, rubbing the piece for good luck. The skies above him turned dark as if indicating the presence of a sudden summer rain.
He jumped as a voice spoke from above him. “The lamp; you rubbed it. Now I am here to grant you a wish,” said a genie hovering above him, its words reverberating through the charged air as electrical lightning played over the nearby buildings. No one else was around.
“Well… damn.” Deshaun found himself at a loss for words. A wish — but only one wish! He could ask for a car, or a million dollars, or a big house in the country, but choosing any of those would eliminate the others. He needed money, coming every month in the mail.
“I want reparations,” he said finally. “I want to be paid for the sufferings of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, the Klan, and racism.”
The genie looked pensive. “Wait.”
As Deshaun stood paused, unsure of what he should do, he saw a figure enter the lot and walk purposefully toward him. When the distance narrowed, he saw that it was a lawyer, with a round face, blonde hair, brown eyes, and thick glasses.
“Please sign this, and we’ll get your payments in the mail,” said this person.
Deshaun looked at the sheet. “What is this?”
“It’s a quitclaim deed, which basically says that your right to a property — reparations — terminates all other claims and indemnifies White people against all future claims relating to race-associated issues.”
“So what’s that mean, in real-world terms?” asked a confuse Deshaun.
“Basically that this will be the sole payment: after this, White people are free from any future claims about slavery, injustice, racism, and discrimination. If you get shot by a White cop, we treat him just like we would a Black cop who shot a White guy.”
“That doesn’t sound so bad,” said Deshaun. He was always nice to police, since that way they usually let him go about his business without a search or interrogation.
“Also, we are ending all other race-related equality programs. No HUD, affirmative action, diversity departments, anti-discrimination law, Fourteenth Amendment, Black presidents on TV, or not prosecuting Black politicians and their White lackeys for crimes,” said the lawyer.
“Well, wait just a second here,” said Deshaun. “I need all that stuff. You cut White people free like this, man, they’re all just going to move to the suburbs, just like they did back in the 1970s here in Detroit.”
“That’s the deal,” said the lawyer. “Otherwise, my client — White People of Murka, Inc. — would be foolish to allow this to happen, because you’ll just want more in the future. It’s like paying a blackmailer, pirate, mafia, gang, or HOA.”
“That is true, though,” thought Deshaun. “Well — I tell you what — I’ll sign, if I can just get a lump sum and run off somewhere where there aren’t many White people, like Africa. I can live like a king there on a couple hundred thou, and be with my people, not these White devil-eyes milk-smelling pig-skin melonfarmers.”
The lawyer eyed the contract. “If you sign the quitclaim, it shall be done.” The genie nodded. Deshaun signed.
Thirty days later, Deshaun looked back on the deal that he had made. He now lived in a small town and had learned to speak the local dialect. He had met a woman who was impressed by his experience in Detroit and his strong biceps. He had a nice house, a car, and a job he attended for a few hours a day fixing up vehicles for reselling.
Above him the sky darkened. Electrical lightning played over the trees. “Oh no,” said Deshaun.
“This is acceptable to you?” boomed the voice of the genie.
“I guess so,” said Deshaun. “I’ve got less stuff, you know less Xbox and stuff, but it’s still around, and I feel like I’ve got… you know… self-respect, here, and I’m not cursed to be a Black man living in a White world.”
Pressure released and the air around him cleared. The blue sky looked down on birds twittering and a gentle breeze. Deshaun nodded a thank you to the now-absent genie, and went on to get about the business of living his best life.