I’m starting to find annoying
all these impervious invitations to
‘take life on the bright
side.’ On every poster, everyone shows
their white teeth in a grin that
seems to me like tetanus. On
the subway, in the streets, in every
magazine, those obsessive
smiles are chasing me. It is a
system. Optimism is necessary to
social peace and economic prosperity
based on consumption and credit.
Simone de Beauvoir, on a visit to
the US, 1947
We are seeing images of children
within a fenced cage. It’s real. Over thousand children
separated from their parents. And, worse, most of the parents have
been deported or will be deported! Something about children the
Department of Homeland Security fears. Homeland Security isn’t
alone. The Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III tells
us to count on more. He has a sinister grin on his face. God, he
says, ordains this behavior, and he announces to the world - while
continuing to quote scripture with all righteous indignation of a
Southern - to remember the “great days” when “colored”
folk were mindful of their superiors and their place in society. If
you didn’t hear this message, fine. Forty-five percent of
Americans, your neighbors, hear this message whenever Trump or one of
his trolls in the White House or in the media speaks on their behalf.
Forty-five percent, and rising!
The head of Homeland Security,
Kirstjen Nielsen assures the world that the children are enjoying
themselves, with plenty of toys in comfortable accommodations. What
more could these children asks for?
For most human beings anywhere on
the planet, these images of children caged and crying - and we saw
Neilsen - had many shaking their heads in disbelief or even screaming
at that their television screens.
In how many languages and dialects,
last week, did humanity ask, Who are these people?
I was thinking about these parents
and their children, debating whether or not to write something,
express, if nothing else, my anger, when a neighbor invites me to her
house. I had mixed feelings when I said yes, but there’s a
crisis. Children! This neighbor is a mother with grown children.
In the living room, the television
is pride of place as it is in many apartments and homes throughout
the US. One of the first times I encountered her, she made sure I
recognized she’s a mother, with grown sons, and she states the
obvious: she is older, by ten years. But age matters, exclusively,
that is, in lieu of any
other credentials. And when age matters, I’ve learned in recent
years, it destabilizes. Disarms.
I hear the large screen television,
and I see the Fox News logo
at the bottom of the screen. I wouldn’t expect otherwise. She
invites me to sit, and I sit and see a reporter and behind him an
image of a young police officer in uniform. He’s been shot
Isn’t that a shame!
assumes I watch the local Fox News network
for the reportage on crime in Milwaukee or Chicago. In this case
Milwaukee, our neighbors to the north. I don’t know what’s
a shame because I don’t know the whole story. Behind me on her
balcony are least ten little American flags and, from where I’m
sitting, I see at least two Christian crosses facing me.
would think that there’s nothing fragile here in this home.
turn away from the television screen. I’m not insensitive to
the death of this young white man. This human being. But as I write
this, there is yet another shooting of a young black child, 17-year
old Antwon Rose. Does she think police shootings of black children is
shameful? In just over a year, she’s never said one word
regarding these tragic deaths.
do hear in her tone something of an accusation, encircling me, a
member of that community of criminal perpetrators.
have too much to say. And, ironically,
I shouldn’t, I feel waste time.
the children in cages! I thinking! Does she have a compassionate word
for those children separated from their mothers?
turns the television off with the remote because, I guess, I’m
not listening to the story about the police officer. And only a
minute or two has passed.
remind her about the shooting of black children by the police.
Average Americans (and I mean white
Americans) don’t care. (Maybe Melanie Trump was relaying this
message too - with her jacket in Washington D.C.’s heat!). I
see in her posture, tall and authoritative, the righteous indignation
of the Jefferson Beauregard or Kirstjen looking down at, what they
perceive as a strangely pathetic obsession with racism.
year, she showed me a picture of her friends, which included a black
woman, smiling from the edge of the photo; a picture of her sons,
very grown and successful; and a picture of her, last years, on that
“historical” day last year, according to her, when Trump
visited Kenosha, Wisconsin.
should leave. The subject changes.
has a jeep but nonetheless wants to know about a local store here
that delivers groceries. (Not for empathizing with me). Possibly for
someone else. You sign up, a store clerk, young male, calls you once
a week or once a month, whenever you please. He takes your grocery
list. Your order is delivered to your home the next day, for a small
fee, of course.
sure she’s heard me or heard from a neighbor who has heard me
on the phone, once every month. Because, one every month, one or more
items isn’t what I requested. I have to make a trip to the
store (that seems to employ far more whites than people of color) and
return the items. This month, a good many items were foods I can’t
eat as a cancer patient. What is going on? You wait for the call one
day and wait for the delivery the next. No set time for either days.
I’ve had to work around oncologist appointments and blood tests
and other errands I have to run. In two years, I’ve objected to
the attitude that those who use the service, car-less seniors and the
disabled, must accept the policy. Deal
with it! Or not! We don’t care!
month, when I walked some 20 blocks to exchanged the product with the
woman at the customer service counter, she referred to me as “young
lady.” Young lady! She,
with her hair dyed blond, might be younger. Or we’re around the
same age. Older women. Mature women. Not young ladies. For a moment,
our eyes lock, and I see that familiar smug expression. Chin up, lips
tight. Eyes daring you in a sea of white to challenge the one
permitted to speak.
now find myself trying to express how I felt at that moment when I
she’s complimenting you!” Period!
the crosses and the flags, are the thousand daily cuts.
not a compliment, I say. For what it’s worth.
well gesture, from her. Oh, the insolence.
exasperating. For both of us.
talk loud, I say because I catch myself. I can’t seem to stop
caring. I’m human! I’m alive! I refuse to turn away.
sun’s setting. It’s dark. So out of the space where she
sits, I hear, Yes, you do! You yell!
did you say? You do! You yell!
look at her. I wasn’t conscious of yelling. But she has to win.
Trump talks about winning. It’s about winners and losers. She’s
calling on the traditional defense and justification for not only not
listening but for perpetuating cruel policies.
The black woman is angry!
are always angry, these leftists! Why can’t we just be happy?
Like in the old days when America was great. When no one yelled about
snatching children from their mothers!
today, anti-freeze laces the Kool Aid!
other day, a Republican representative, speaking to the media, refers
to the Democrats, those who want no borders, as “extremists.”
To work for a world with no walls, no borders, people united for the
good of all life on earth, is to think like an extremist!
can only yell when you’re alive and angry at the overwhelming
ignorance and cruelty that has always been a part of America - but
now indicates the country isn’t bothering to think about moving
should be moving toward no borders. No walls. But America, now is a
country where Trump supporters sit praying and waiting, banking on
Trump to build walls and reinforce borders - and establish, in the
process, totalitarianism as the norm.
had better be doing more than just yelling!