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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

Thursday, March 01, 2018

White people

Leaving the LGBT center I walk the additional mile to the State Street Coffee House – a cute, little bungalow sitting back from the road, converted into a coffee shop. There are no lesbians or at least no one who admits to being a lesbian inside but there are more white people than I’ve seen since I’ve arrived here.

A slight older white womon with a full head of long white hair braided on either side of her ears, smiles shyly and tells me she agrees with “Death to Racism”. We talk a little and when Tina hears that El Paso and Texas are in my travel plans she confesses she hasn’t driven through Texas since she and her best friend took a greyhound from Charleston to San Diego. She starts describing one of the scheduled stops the bus made along the way in Texas. When the passengers disembarked and entered the building, there was a little, very dark, dank and dirty small walled-off porch area to their right with one Black man sitting there, his back to them, hunched over his plate.

The bus driver pointed the passengers through another doorway to the sunny, cheery formica tables with matching chairs perched on top of shiny dark brown wooden floors. Behind the counter, a couple white women in red, white and blue uniform skirts and blouses, broad smiles plastered across red lips, motioned for them to sit.

Tina looks directly into my eyes, anger and resentment filling her face, as she expresses her irritation … at the bus driver. I’m taken back and ask her why would she be angry with the bus driver – and since 1982? She declares that he should have taken them somewhere else, that he knew he’d have to sit in the darkened section while they went to the white side. She resented him exposing this reality of the u.s. to her.

“Where did you expect the bus driver to take you in Texas in 1982?” I ask, curious. I see it dawn on her, for the first time in 35 years, that maybe that’s what all the restaurants in Texas were like. Startled, she asks me if it is still the same in Texas today.

I ask her what did she, her friend, and the other white passengers do? She looks at me blankly. “Did you support racism and sit in the ‘whites only’ part? Or did you think about joining the bus driver and other man sitting on the porch?” 

“Why, no. We weren’t allowed to do that,” she states unequivocally. 

“Really?” I ask skeptically as she blushes slightly. I could see I made my point. I acknowledge her anger and ask her, rhetorically I hoped, why did she think she turned her anger on to the Black person who was the victim of racism and not on the white perpetrators? Why was she willing to comply with and add to racism instead of challenging the white waitresses and owner, the other white passengers, her friend? 

I told her about the sunset or sundown towns, where Black and brown people had to be out of that town by sunset – or be targets of white violence, legal white violence with impunity.

My first reading...maybe

I’m delighted to find there’s an LGBT center in this tiny California Imperial Valley town! I walk the 1.5 miles from the repair shop to explore the center.

There is a solid womon with sparkling brown eyes, thick black curly hair tied back behind her ears, sitting behind the desk welcoming me and offering me water. The walk over has been hot and I’ve forgotten my water bottle. She pulls out a plastic water bottle that ignore.

She takes great pride in telling me their largest group is the trans group that will meet tomorrow, and that they have drug abuse and anger management groups as well. I ask her about any groups for lesbians and she waves nonchalantly as if to say, ‘oh those…insignificant’. “I’m sure there’s lesbians around” she states confidently, “but there is no need to have any groups. We’re not exclusive, we include everyone.”

Okay, then why the trans group? 

I stare at her in disbelief. Then I ask her, “okay, where will I find lesbians here?”

She admits she doesn’t know & I wonder if she’s as lesbian as she looks. So I change tactics and ask about lesbian-owned businesses or bookstores or bars even. She gently, as if I’m deranged, denies the existence of such “L” identified places.

Then she tells me, a chuckle in her voice, that maybe I should try this coffee shop. I like coffee shops, especially if they serve organic coffee.

Another womon, solemn and serious, thick black hair curving almost to her shoulders, formerly thick eyebrows plucked to thin lines, formal dark blue skirt suit, strides into the reception area somewhere from behind closed doors. She extends her hand and warmly welcomes me, apologizing for being busy when I arrived. I tell her no worries and answer her question as to how I found them and where I’m from.

And this is the truth: I searched in google maps for the YMCA and the LGBT center came up, much to my surprise. No Y but this center. She tells me they’ve been here for almost 3 years and they’re for everyone, not just the LGBT community. 

She also brags fondly about their trans group when I ask her about a lesbian support group. She eems to also think there isn’t a need, that lesbians are all over and come to use the services there, but the center is not blatant, not like – and she searches to hastily cover up whoever she was going to point the finger at, probably remembering I come from one of those ‘blatant’ places, so I assure her, nodding so convincingly she nods with me: “blatant like heterosexuals, you mean”.

Her business-like veneer slips a little but then she quickly tells me about the event they’re having Saturday and invites me to come and speak for 15 minutes if I want to. And do I want to! She has examined my book, skipping right to the “to do” pages in the back, nodding her head, agreeing with the list, at least of the first 10 things.

The things to know….if your turbo goes!

Driving from San Diego heading to Tucson on I-8, I had climbed up and over the tallest of the spectacular desert mountains that nestle majestically between California and Mexico, and was on the downhill from 4000 feet, when I heard a series of loud quick clangs like someone was using a crowbar to knock on my metal door and then a high whine that could have been a fan belt squeak or the high scream of metal-on-metal.

Ut oh, I knew I was in trouble. I pulled off the freeway at the first sign of people, very sparse people, with an open chevron gas station and an abandoned café on the south side of the freeway, and a handful of trailers and tiny dwellings on the west side.

The young womon behind the counter confirms with a kind sympathetic smile there are no mechanics in her town, so I move my truck over to the huge, sandy and gravel lot, sporting one abandoned and listing rv, to begin to google diesel mechanics.

Of course, there are none close by. My options seem to be get towed back over the mountains to San Diego which might cost a grand…hahaha…or get towed 26 miles to the next town for $250.

Or try to keep driving. After all, the engine is running, the brakes work, the oil and water levels are fine, all fan belts are strong and accounted for, it shifts like it’s supposed to. It’s just making that strange, unidentifiable noise that escalates in unison with the gas pedal.

In hindsight I probably should have just camped there overnight in the empty lot, did more research, and made the decision in the morning. I don’t know why I didn’t seriously consider that.

Instead I took off, trying to make it to the one shop that I found 25 miles east, that claimed to know how to work on Isuzu NPR diesels! The owner had warned me that I might lose power down to 45 or 50 but I assured him I don’t normally go over 55 anyway.

He did NOT warn me that my truck might “runaway”. Nor did he tell me what to do if it does. Now I know.

IF your engine will not shut off when you turn off the ignition, cut the fuel source, disconnect the batteries -= in other words, if it keeps mysteriously running, spewing huge clouds of black and white smoke, and deafeningly revs up like it’s about to levitate, you’re supposed to throw the vehicle into 4th or 5th gear and pop the clutch. I don’t know what automatics do, sorry.

Popping the clutch will shut down the engine and prevent damage done when the engine finally burns through lubricants and runs dry – and shuts down that way.

I don’t know yet if my engine has been damaged or if the culprit is just the turbocharger – and the manifold.