I used to 'speak' spanish!
I have forgotten almost everything I knew and learned during my four months traveling through Mexico and from the year of studying before I left, but I'm hoping it will all come back to me quickly.
White people are so prejudiced and bigoted - from the white biker in Yellowstone who had to whirl his bike around & track me down to scream "go back to where you came from" after seeing my truck painted in Spanish to Joanna who suddenly chuckles and tells me, in the middle of such a nice long conversation we're having, as she most likely unconsciously peers behind trees and around bushes, she thinks "those Mexicans outnumber Blacks" now in her lovely state of Alabama.
I am so disappointed and feel my fury pushing words out of my mouth. We have bonded, Joanna and I. She's voted for Obama - these small things I'm grateful for in the middle of this bigoted, violent, ignorant state. I'm thinking she's probably an old union worker and I'm thankful we are talking about real things.
Why bring up Mexican-Americans at all? We're talking about an Alabama measure I am not familiar with, but it has something blatant to do with race.
But does this white woman not know who lives in her state where the Black population is 26% and the Hispanic population is 4% - that's ALL spanish-speaking people, not just Mexican-Americans.
I ask her if she's talking about her state and she nods solemnly, shifting to plant her feet more firmly as if she knows what she's seen.
When I tell her what the 2011 census bureau reports, she looks at me more carefully and comes back with the welfare myth. Welfare! As if they are not more white people on welfare then any others.
While I'm regrouping, she goes on to talk about battered womyn and how she just doesn't understand why they don't leave.
I don't know what point to address first. So I just bring it home. I tell her I was on welfare. I asked her if she knew that I never worked so hard in my life when I was on welfare? Welfare is just enough to barely keep you alive - it certainly doesn't put food in your kids mouth or ensure you have a place to live.
Further, I said, I was on welfare because I was a battered womon. I told her how difficult it is for womyn to leave, I told her some of my story. I told her you KNOW our society does not care about battered womyn, or children - or brown and black men for that matter.
She reveals that once a man she was merely dating back-handed her. She left. Immediately. I tell her she's lucky she had it in her - and the resources - to leave.
This man she's with, for 20 years, made a promise to her when they got together: he would never hit her UNLESS she hit him first.
I look intently at her, attempting to keep the stun out of my voice. This makes you feel what, free? I ask. I don't understand straight women.
She goes on to explain they never really fight - they just don't talk. If she gets mad or he gets mad, they just shut-up and don't talk about it.
I try to look more intently at her. This is the most you can expect, not to talk about the things that make you mad?
I REALLY don't get straight women.
Okay. This is the day after a Black man has been re-elected and not by the state of Alabama, who went over 60% for wilt. This is a womon that I share some values with, I'm aligned somewhat with - at least deep in the woods in Alabama!
She is against wars. She is against violence. She's not originally a southerner, she's from Indiana - a midwesterner.
I tell her regardless of how many Mexicans or Afro-Americans there are in our country, one thing I KNOW for sure: that is the 1% who owns over 50% of ALL our wealth in this country are ALL white! And that's whom we should be worried about, talking about, taking wealth away from.
She nods brightly with that "oh I get it" look traveling over her expressive face. She grabs me & gives me a big hug, telling me how much she's enjoyed talking to me, and before I can wonder if I actually said the things I was thinking, she tells me how I've enabled her to see things differently.
After her and her husband pack up and before they leave the campground, she anchors a note to my camper door with her email address and contact info, expressing once again her desire to keep in touch.