Thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

I am sitting in a hotel near Washington, DC, listening to some Republican candidates howling on TV about Syrian refugees, terrorism, all lives mattering and all the tropes in their vast repertoire….

Two days ago, I was walking around Terminal D at DFW airport. The terminal was practically empty, and a disaffected waiter hailed me, advertising his lunch menu. I needed to eat, so I took a table. I am white. A few minutes later, a black lady came to the restaurant, holding her boarding pass. The waiter’s reaction? “We don’t take vouchers here.” The lady just wanted to know which way to walk towards her gate, yet the waiter’s “read” was that she was in need of a “favor” and his reaction was to try to get rid of her. Over the course of my meal, white passengers were invited in, black passengers ignored.

At what point will all of us realize that “Black Lives Matter” has the word “Equally” unmentioned and yet powerfully present? The young black activists are not begging for favors, they are demanding justice and equality. I may quibble with their methods sometimes, but not with the reasons behind their protests. Republican presidential candidates harp on the methods in a disingenuous attempt to ignore the cause behind the protests.

I think back sometimes on the time I spent volunteering in elementary schools in the DC area. The student population was all African-American or, sometimes, comprised Latinos as well. The kids saw me as someone interesting, there to help them. They sometimes tugged at my sleeve asking “Are you with the music people?” I felt good, but could not help thinking:” If I were a black lady of a certain age in an all-white school, wearing the same jeans and sweater, students would assume I am the cleaning staff.” That is where racism starts, in the assumption that perceived differences – skin color, gender, religion, sexuality – lead to “otherness” and potentially danger. Racism does not start in the hearts and rhetoric of politicians, but it flourishes there because it senses that it exists to some degree in all of us.

After all this rather depressing talk, what am I thankful for, then, except for the deeply individual joys of a loving family and continued health? I am thankful for those of us who, braver than I, take on the challenge of fighting for a better world, where differences in skin color, culture, religion etc… are to be explored, cherished, seen as a source of enrichment, both individually and for society at large. I am thankful that we have 3 presidential candidates on the Democratic side who represent my values. We must all stand up for where we need to be as a nation. Not be discouraged by talk of the Koch brothers’ wealth. One citizen, one vote. Let’s turn them out!

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