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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, August 08, 2019

That's an awful controversial thing you have painted on your shirt

            The next rest stop doesn’t bring any more respite either. It’s another tourist information welcome center staffed by two white people: one a ‘middle aged’ white-haired womon and a younger white male who appears to have mild case of down syndrome. Even so, all the people in line address their enquiries to him.
When it’s my turn to ask my question, before I do more than nod and greet both people, the womon scowls, puts both hands on the counter in front of her and challenges me with an “That’s an awful controversial thing you have painted on your shirt.”
I look down in surprise – I’m still wearing my “Death to Racism” shirt – surprised she would express what I’m sure lots of white people are thinking, but pleased she is leaving herself open to a real dialogue.
“You think ‘death to racism’ is controversial? What would you like to happen to racism Pauline?” I begin but she’s shaking her head.
“No, well maybe, but not really,” she’s claiming. “It’s the back.”
I’ve really forgotten what’s written on the back, as I’ve several choices. When I ask her she spits out “Abolish Prison”.
“Wow, I didn’t expect anyone in Vermont to think abolishing prison is controversial,” I state.
“You’re still in Maine,” she glowers, “and yes, that is VERY controversial.”
Her son chimes in and thus begins our dialogue around prison. I ask what they think the purpose of prison is. They are silent for a few and then they say to lock away bad people.
I let them know the many reasons that ‘purpose’ is misleading. I talk about how the system ensures certain people – poor Black and brown people – go to jail and certain people – rich white people – don’t. They agree that often the people who SHOULD be locked up are not. They are not going to agree there’s institutional racism governing prisons.
The young man whose name tag I can finally see as he leans forward, brings up rehabilitation so I have an opening to say no, prisons are about breaking human beings, not helping them. I can see an almost identical look pass over their eyes and know they know what I’m talking about.
I talk about prisons as a huge failing of our society – I acknowledge that there are people who need to be removed from the greater society but prison is not the answer.
“Well what do you think the answer is?” asks Bryant.
I smile, happy he has asked.
“We have to begin when people are children and make sure they are taken care of…” I start.
Pauline jumps up, knocking her chair over, angry that I would suggest it is our job to provide for our citizens, especially as youth, so they don’t grow up angry and fucked up and so desperate as to do things a privileged child doesn’t have to do to survive.
Frankly, I’m horrified – I didn’t expect anyone to react with such hatred toward children who are hungry, homeless, un or under-educated, with little if any options.
“Their parents need to provide for them,” she spits. “You should move to Cuba or Russia if you want children to be taken care of.”
I’m done. I ask her, well no, I state, “wow, I bet you call yourself a christian too.” And then I start quoting the bible about “I was hungry,….etc..”
She concurs she’s is a christian as I can see her searching her mind for another bible verse that never comes to her for where would it say don’t take care of the children?
I shake my head in disgust and leave, forgetting what question I had for them in the first place.



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