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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is steaming with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want ALL to thrive in

Friday, April 14, 2017

Immigrants stealing the good life from us!

I’m waiting for my Tennessee sistah friend at the Waffle House, where I realize that I’ll have more luck finding people who’ve voted to make amerikkka great again than at Whole Foods, Starbucks or even Trader Joe’s.

And sure enough, the bouncy blue-eyed white-trying-to-be-black waitress with dyed dark brown Farrah Fawcett hair and unnaturally tanned skin that resembles a stale coffee ground stain on a white table cloth, comes over to ask for my (non) order. No other customers are in the restaurant but the 6 or so staff is restlessly waiting to welcome all.

We get into the standard “what are you doing here” question while I find out she’s originally from the rural north of Chicago, has been to San Francisco once but doesn’t travel much although she did go to Costa Rico, were the food was awful because they didn’t know how to make hamburgers! It was stringy if you can imagine that!

I ask her about the recent presidency and she admits she doesn’t read the newspapers, or listen to the news on the radio or the telly as she has other programs to watch during that time slot so she doesn’t really know what is happening.

When I press her a little further, she tells me that because things were so bad previous to tRump, it’s going to take him a while to get amerikkka great again.

I ask her what was so bad before. She moves closer to me and says the problem we have in this country is overpopulation. We are letting in too many people, as she sweeps her arms to indicate how overcrowded this spacious part of Tennessee is. We are at least 30 miles from Nashville surrounded by forests and hills and open sky.

Her accent gets more and more southern sounding the more she talks. She tells me in a conspiratorially loud whisper immigrants are taking our jobs, getting free health care, education, free food and places to live. Her eyes grow wider, leaving the best for last as she claims they don’t even have to pay taxes for a long, long time.

We should be taking care of our own instead of letting them into the country and then, worse, taking care of THEM.

I ask her if she personally knows of any of these immigrants and for the first time, she looks surprised, maybe realizing I might not agree but instead, admitting she doesn’t know them “personally” (her finger quotes) but don’t I see them all around, driving brand new huge cars and spending lots of money?

I ask to her horror and vigorous shake of her fluffy tresses, if immigrants live in her neighborhood or maybe work at Waffle House, to which she shakes her head. I explain that because she doesn’t watch the news, read any papers, listen to current events on the radio – let alone personally know any immigrants – where does she gets her "facts" (my finger quotes) from?

My friend has arrived so I terminate the interview, thanking her while I tell her she has a lot of her facts totally wrong & suggest we talk again when we're finished eating.

I am filled with immense sadness as I turn to joyfully great my dear sistah friend, the bigoted waitress put aside for now.

Do you think you (dick-less wonder) have the answer?

Once again I seem to have parked my truck were everyone working out has a good view of the back and the “End Violence” side – this time from the 2nd floor.

A clean-cut white male in maybe his 50’s walks over to nonchalantly stand in front of me to peer out the window, making a show of getting closer to read my truck. When he swings around, I think he is either a gay boy or a cop – so could be pro or con.

He approaches me and begins talking at me even tho I’m listening to a book and working out. I motion for him to wait a minute while I pause my story and catch what he is asking me.

“Do you think you have the answer?” he demands with that immense condescending self-righteousness that white men have down so naturally and completely. I smile in what I hope is a disarming way as I bite off so I don’t have a fucking dick so I can’t possibly have answers.

Instead I tell him I have lots of answers but what is the question? He waves vaguely to my “End Violence” side of the truck and again even more haughtily asks me if I think I could possibly have an answer – and I assume it is to ending violence against womyn and children.

I look him directly in the eye and say of course I have answers but he is asking the wrong question. I now have his attention as he asks, oh yeah, what is the correct question? I say you need to ask if we WANT to end violence against womyn and children; if we WANT to end the violence of war, of poverty, of racism, of sexism, of prisons.

He then sneeringly asks me if I think my answers are right.

Really man? I tell him I’m 66 years old. I’ve spent and spend my life studying, researching, talking with people, walking in other people’s shoes, traveling, engaging in dialogue, critically thinking, problem solving. Of COURSE I have answers that are right.

I ask him did he want to end violence? I leave it open as he nods and says of course he does. I don’t need to ask him if he voted to make amerikkka great again so instead I ask him if he sees amerikkka becoming great again since the inauguration.

He shifts slightly, lowering both arms, hands extended palms patting downward, and lets me know that the past 8 years we’ve dipped very, very low and so it will take time for tRump to get amerikkka back on course but he’s made a great beginning.

I try to keep a neutral face as I ask him if he’d let me interview him about what he sees happening to make our country great. He backs off rapidly, shaking his head, no, no, no and I practically beg him to allow me to record him. I try flattering him, telling him people around the country want to know what he’s thinking, what the average amerikkkan is believing but he rapidly slinks off and melts into the rows of machines, still shaking his head “no”.

I think my timing was off. I should have found out first what he considered great and then asked him to repeat it maybe…

The 30%

I find a Y less than a mile off the freeway just east of Knoxville. Again I park my truck where there is good visibility from inside the Y workout room!

But there’s also good access from the administration office so after the young white womon instructs me to sign the guest register and waves me thru the lobby toward the womyn’s locker room, I hear her answering the phone & then questioning her boss stating that she’s checked my ID. She hangs up and sheepishly motions me back & says there’s a new policy and she has to call my Y to confirm my membership.

& I say, oh your boss doesn’t like my truck.

The older white woman standing next to me waiting to be helped asks me how come I’m this far away from home. I tell her, staring into her eyes, I’m looking to interview folks who have voted to make amerikkka great again and I know I’m in a state where more older white women voted for tRump than for HRC. She is immaculately dressed for a workout venue, has a haircut similar to mine, but longer on the shorter side, and shorter on the longer side, coming to a smart if stiff blond curl framing one edge of her cheek, designer glasses perched on her nose.

She informs me with much derision as she edges away that amerikkka has ALWAYS been great. I do not tell her that I believe the opposite, that we have never been great plus I do not ask her “when? When we were committing genocide against First Nation peoples or maybe enslaving, raping, and murdering Black people? Or maybe from 1801 when we began sending our military around the world to take over countries to exploit their resources? Or perhaps when we dropped the atomic bomb twice on civilian populations???

But instead I ask her if she thinks we are continuing to be great under tRump. She turns abruptly and lets me know quite forcefully that she is one of the 30% of Tennesseans who voted for Hillary. Her eyes glaze over when she then begins to longingly talk about the brilliant, gracious, classy couple who lead our country for 8 years and now look what we have. The exact opposite.

I ask her what she thinks the campaign slogan meant & she again fixes me with an angry stare and declares this is the dying gasp of old men – I interrupt with “racist white” old men and she nods vigorously agreeing.

She tells me she has faith in the democrats & that the dems need to take over the house again. I think about the dems who’ve voted for war, the ‘tough on crime’ Clintons, the militarization of the police under the ‘dems’ and I can’t agree but I do tell her I agree with our need to be in D.C. and/or at our representatives offices DAILY, which she tells me she plans on doing.

I begin to think maybe I should talk with people who didn’t vote to ‘make amerikkka great again’ and find out what they think that might mean.

We found our people! & don’t be a dick!

I return from the bathroom at a lovely rest stop on eastern I40 to find a lovely young man eagerly awaiting my return so he can ask me if it’s okay to take a picture of the “End Violence Against Womyn” side of my truck.

Originally from Memphis, he is going to school in Missouri. When I ask how that is for him, a hip-looking young dark chocolate fellow with designer glasses and two large diamonds in his pierced ears and a wide, easy-going smile, he confesses he misses Tennessee – especially the southern hospitality part – and finds mid-westerners cold and unfriendly.

We talk about #SayHerName and he admits in horror that he didn’t know any of the names listed there so I tell him about a few.

While we’re talking, a tall, bald white man also with two earrings but large chrome hoops, stands patiently to the side, grinning broadly, about to burst but doesn’t interrupt. When we pause, he asks if this is my truck, thanks me profusely and hands me and then my Missouri college student a stack of small black and white bumper stickers that say “Basically: don’t be a dick” before departing.

The young man confides before he hops in the car where his father is patiently waiting that he is on his way to pick up his brand new red car and he’s going to plaster these stickers all over it!

Four young white womyn, all with an abundance of curly long hair, approach excitedly, asking me about the anti-Monsanto side of the truck. I explain my dear friend Phoebe, a renowned Berkeley artist, painted it for me and I point out the skull and crossbones.

They smile broadly and proclaim that when they saw my truck parked at the other end of the rest stop, they hurried over to park next to me, declaring “we found our people”!