a woman walked up and asked how the young black poet the month before could shake with such anger during his reading. Is it really that bad? It can’t be that bad, can it? I told her it was and she said, Maybe for you in Kansas, but here in Charleston a nice black man held the door open for me and my friends because people respect each other here and those things you write about don’t happen anymore. I live here, too, I reminded her. And by here I meant the world, but she was already off and talking about some professor that was B-L-A-C-K black, not black like you, and when I was in college in the ’70s, I couldn’t understand why on earth he would come here to teach in a state where people just don’t see that kind of black. The woman pouring wine at the reception exchanged a look with me — each of us with arched brows asking the other, You believe this shit? Then another woman tried to help, said, It doesn’t matter what color anyone is as long as you’re willing to listen to one another’s experience — but those young people who identify as different genders are beyond me. I must have been in a goddamn sitcom when yet another well-meaning woman realized they were all starting to look bad and tried to shut the whole thing down: Let’s talk about the art on the walls, how good it is to host such a diverse lineup of poets, how everything’s always been this awful, but it’s getting better. Isn’t it getting better?