I don’t care about aliens.
I remember the first time I became aware of the possibility of extraterrestrial life. I was around five or six years old, and I was watching TV with many of my cousins and siblings. I don’t remember the exact program we were watching, but it involved some type of found footage from a grainy camcorder capturing some type of big-headed, non-mammalian creature, and I was terrified.
As I grew up, it became clear that everyone has an opinion on aliens. Are they real? What would you do if you met one? Do we deserve to be killed by them? Soon, my fear was replaced by accepting them as an essential fixture of pop culture. I learned the Men in Black dance; I can never forget the birthday party scene from Signs. Once, I went to an alien convention for work and talked to a woman who believed she herself was an alien/human hybrid. I have been to Marfa, Texas and truly believe that I saw the Marfa alien lights in the desert.
But with so much lockdown time I’ve had thinking about things that don’t matter, I’ve recently come to accept that I don’t care about aliens in any way outside of the world of entertainment. I’ve gone so far as to wonder if it’s really any of my business whether or not aliens are real. It’s one of those things that feel for me more like white people’s business than anyone else’s. Just look at the board of directors of MUFON, the largest organization for people who “study” UFO sightings — they’re all white!
People seem to really care about aliens, like ET, making it hard for me to not constantly think about them. The dude from Blink 182 has dedicated his life to researching UFOs. On June 25th, the Pentagon released a UFO report that many believe is vague enough to signal that the United States government is giving us a winky face “maybe” at the existence of beings who live beyond this great big marble we call Earth.
This map of UFO sightings sealed the deal for me. ESRI, a supplier of geographic information confirmed some of my suspicions — UFO sightings are just a way for people living in the biggest military power in the world to make themselves even more important. Also, notice how little anyone in the global South cares? Of course, this could be because of language barriers and differences in how reporting on alien sightings is quantified — but if being African has taught me anything, it’s that we have real things to be worrying about, like diaspora wars. It’s something I noticed at the convention I went to: everyone there was white. Tom DeLonge is also white, and surely so are many of these Pentagon officials (Signs auteur M. Night Shyamalan is not). So you’re telling me aliens are basically only trying to get spotted by Americans, like they’re trying to get the attention of the most popular alien girl at alien school? Seems a bit fishy to me.
A few years before my grandmother’s death, she made my brother and I promise her that we would never go to space. “Who knows what’s out there?” she said. “It’s not our business.”