Quick context: One of the book’s three main characters, Andre, a mid-20s black man, is staging a Fourth of July protest outside the Alamo in San Antonio, TX. He stands by a banner he made and tied up to a fence that proclaims, FORGET THE ALAMO, bookended by two pictures: one of a Confederate Flag in flames, the other an American flag in flames. He gets on his megaphone to deliver his message to the hundreds of people milling around and waiting to get into the Alamo, and here we are (WARNING: racial slurs):
After an hour, he gets on the bullhorn and begins shouting his message to the masses milling around in front of the Alamo, to passersby, and to those waiting in line to be spoon-fed information on the “heroic” acts of Davy Crocket and James Bowie as they fought off the armies of General Santa Anna, the tour guides likely making only passing mention—if any at all—that these “brave” frontiersmen were slave-sustainers illegally occupying Mexican land. “Do ya’ll even know what you’re celebrating?” Andre cries. The volume’s turned up to 6. His voice booms out and reverberates off the scaly walls of the famous building. “You’re celebrating the legacy of black enslavement.” He pauses for dramatic effect. “That’s right.” He briefly relates the story of Mexico and Texas’s land dispute. Andre figures the following: If your idea of a (holi)day well spent is waiting in line for several hours to be led on a bland tour of the Alamo, you probably have the approximate attention span of a six-year-old with severe ADD. And the sophistication of an equally-aged retarded kid. So he’s gotta speak in short sound bites.
“Shut yer gahdamn mouth!” an obese man yells as he passes, Pabst Blue Ribbon in hand. Seems the police are ignoring public drinking laws for the day. That’s about the extent of freedom for the masses of Americans—lemme get shitfaced (on the drugs deemed legal, that is), and don’t bother us with the oppression of somebody else. The freedom of idleness and apathy.
“Shut up!” another man shouts. “This is the Fourth of Juh-ly.” As if that alone were justification to silence all criticism and dissent, no matter how legitimate.
“Yes, it is the Fourth—that’s the point! This country was built on land stolen from American Indians and Mexicans,” Andre megaphones, trying to keep his voice steady in the ugly face of mounting animosity. People lined up outside the Alamo have begun shouting as well. Expletives come hurling at him like golf balls at a driving range. “And on the backs of African slaves. This country you’re celebrating would not exist were it not for genocide and enslavement! Why are you celebrating the Alamo, a symbol of slavery?”
“Fuck off!” a middle-aged woman in a pretty blue dress snarls, stomping up to Andre. “People are just trying to enjoy the holiday, take your Communist bullshit somewhere else.”
Andre stares at her for several moments, this attractive, respectable-looking woman, stunned by her aggression. Finally he says, “Ever heard of the First Amendment?”
“You’re taking advantage of the freedoms of the country you claim to hate. You’re a hypocrite!”
Andre rolls his eyes, shakes his head with a guttural scoff. Why do people have to be so goddamn stupid? “I’m not talking about this country’s legal, pseudo-form of freedom. I’m talking about the simple human right to freedom of speech. I don’t need a law telling me I can say whatever the fuck I want, just like I don’t need a law telling me I’m a human being, rather than just three-fifths of one.”
“Fuck you,” someone shouts in the distance, “and your sign. Go back to California, nigger.”
“Go to commie Russia and see how far you get with your lofty ideals,” the woman in the blue dress says. “See if they respect your ‘human rights’!”
“No, I think I’ll stay here,” Andre says. “This is where I was born, this is where I grew up, and this is my home—because my ancestors were torn away from their homes and shipped over here stuffed in boxes to build this fucking country. Now I’m not gonna speak to you anymore. Please drop dead, you fucking miserable cunt.” He raises the megaphone back to his mouth and looks away from her slack-jawed face.