‘Control Negro’ by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

This story takes the topic of race in America and holds it up under floodlights. But under that runs a chorus of love and remembrance, of a father obsessively watching his son – setting their two lives side by side ­– and hoping that this time around it will be different: “I wanted to test my own beloved country: given the right conditions, could America extend her promise of Life and Liberty to me too, to someone like me?” I loved the structure Johnson chose for this piece. Having the father tell what happened back to the son gave it an energy I couldn’t look away from.

First published in Guernica, 2017, Collected in Best American Short Stories, 2018. Read online here