Poem: The Meeting


It appeared

the way the morning sun flashes

through gathering clouds–

suddenly

a burst of

unexpected radiance

The beauty of it

drenching

my soul

Its unforeseen appearance

bringing clarity

to the moment

But hopefully

lasting beyond

long after the day

folds into

night

 

 

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Poem: The Speech


Common ground

must abound

for this country

to unite

and to set

founding notions right

Not you

against me

She vs. he

White is better

than Black

or pretend

global warming

is not a fact

Walls must fall

while we help

all who call

No matter tint

of skin

where preference

is no mortal sin

And believing

means freedom

the wisdom of truth

found in our

words

Not blurred

by hatred or fear

but once again

self-evident

we the people

are equal

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poem: Speak Sweet


His words then

ring ring

true today

the voice that

speaks sweet

only time can solve race injustice

some said to him

It has not

Black ghost

talking before us

still

unheard

in winters of delay

When will The Dream come true?

destinies of Negro and White man tied together

Rip the bonds of inequality

and weave nets strong enough

to catch us all

as we come together

through time

 

Note: I am spending today listening to Martin Luther King Jr speeches, especially some I have never heard before. The words in italics are his.

Speak


As this Martin Luther King day approaches, I am compelled to contemplate (and write) about racism and bigotry in this country. With a president that feels he has the right to boast his hatred and utter his disregard for equality it is quite evident that some people still carry these sentiments most obviously.

But a book that I recently read: Tears We Cannot Stop, A Sermon to White America, By Michael Eric Dyson, made me look more deeply into the question of implicit racism. By definition found on the computer it means:  implicit racism includes unconscious biases, expectations, or tendencies that exist within an individual, regardless of ill-will or any self-aware prejudices.

He speaks to ‘whiteness’ in general, not in a way that is scolding, but in a way that most definitely made me look at my privileged life in this country as a white person. Of that there is NO doubt.

It is easy to notice things like what the president did and said: that this is racism/bigotry. But there are other signs that are less clear. The lines become blurred when looking at crime and how media portrays who commits them. Who do we feel as white folk are the criminals? Really, answer that question, then check the statistics. Or how do you feel when you walk down a dark street and people of color are near?

There are tests to see if you have implicit bias (or racism). The results may be surprising to you. I was scared when I took one, afraid that I might not be the person I thought I was or wanted to be. The result was fascinating actually. I guess it may depend on life experience and how much you really believe what you read and see on the news.

Dyson challenges white people in order to make this a world as Martin Luther King envisioned (and many others like him), then we must engage those who say racist things when we hear them. Sitting silent is as good as saying it ourselves. Let people know you won’t tolerate this kind of talk. Use it as a teaching moment if you hear folks spouting incorrect information about black people; let them know you know the truth.

This president is trying to worm his way out of the disgusting words he spoke recently and so will others. It is not being tolerated.

So in the words of MLK, speak up!

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

 

One


Humans have so many peculiar traits. There are a myriad of cultural, ethnic and race oddities we humans have adopted that allude me. How far in the centuries do they go back and from where do they stem?

For instance: where does royalty come from? Watching The Crown last night, it struck me as, well, silly (no offense to anyone reading), that we as humans actually regard other humans as somehow superior. That their blood is somehow ‘royal’ and to be treated specially; that we should bow down and kiss their hands etc. It struck me as funny.

And then there is the black vs. white situation. We all know the horrors of that situation, not only in this country, but in South Africa too. How do humans come to a place that one race is more deserving than another? Where does this feeling begin?

In Germany, we have an idea where to trace the hatred of the Jews and subsequent extermination of them. But was it really just one man’s idea or is there an underlying theme among humans that somehow we are not all equal? I see a trend.

There are so many examples we can look to in history where one people feels different and better or somehow higher. In some cases, like with royalty, maybe these people are held in high esteem. But in most cases, it causes bad blood  among the groups.

I’m no scientist, but I do know that at our cellular level, and when you cut us all open, we all bleed them same. We all look the same on the inside. We all have a heart, two lungs, two kidneys and a brain, although some don’t use it as well as others. That’s why when you get right down to it, it’s all so foolish that we fight and kill, destroy and bomb, displace and denigrate folks we feel are others. Because really they are not.

They are really us, maybe with a different color paint, but filled with the same parts.

Lest We Never Forget


On this September 11th, as I am remembering that day now so long ago, it feels rather odd to no longer be a part of the ‘family’ of emergency workers. It was a part of my life for so many years, and when that day ripped the world apart, it hit me personally, when so many of my brothers and sisters  were there in the chaos. It could have been me….


Now, I am so blessed, as I am settling in to my new home, to be living a different life. Not that it isn’t without its stresses. But in this new place, it somehow seems more tidy and peaceful, even when the world is now full of such unrest. For me, it seemed like it really started on the awful day. That’s when it ramped up. Yes, there was always hate, prejudice, injustice. Oh yeah…don’t get me wrong.

What we’ve done in this very country for hundreds of years has been disgraceful. The inequity of people based on color, gender, disabilities or anything different for that matter, has always been an issue here. But the hate now seems so palpable. And no, I don’t think it’s just that we hear about it more through media. There is just more of it!

As I walk through my new community, one that is neat and friendly, I feel it is easy to become insulated. I want to become insulated some days. It’s exhausting listening day after day to the killing, the terror, the devastation of the planet and the hatred. One just wonders what happened to simply winding one’s life down and beginning to relax?

At work I sit and hear people talk. The constant whining, complaining, the mocking tones and downright meanness. What came first? Were people always like this or has our country turned sour because of all that’s hurting our world and therefore our souls? Maybe it’s simply decomposing us from the inside.

I ask every day in my daily meditation for peace: in my life and for the world. Trying to touch each person I meet with a sense of peace. How can I have a ripple effect?

My simple, small and quiet apartment is my sanctuary. It’s easy now to feel like I never want to go outside.  But there are good reasons to do it… Pushing against the beast of lurking depression, caused by bombardment of the seeming global demise–I do my best to remain positive. This home is my recharge point where I plug-in to be able to go out into a world that drains me of resources.

So, lest we never forget: that day September 11, 2001, changed the world. It tore us apart and we haven’t figured out since then how to come back together. The only way to honor those lost that day, and those who are still suffering, like the rescuers who continue to lose their lives because of the toxins they took in from 9/11–is to learn how to love again. To love each other, the earth, the animals, the trees, the air, the water….
And no walls, either outside or in, will help. Only learning to understand each other on the deepest level. And truly caring for our fellow human like we are one family.

Having A Dream


martin-luther-king-jr

 

Today marked a very important anniversary for me and for many other Americans I’m sure. Today was the 50th Anniversary of the march on Washington and of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. While I was only a child then, and not there, his words and the message of that day still resound a strong beat that thump in my heart to this day.

Every time I watch the speech (which I make a point to do when the anniversary comes up) it always brings up and overwhelming feelings of hope. And that justice can prevail if enough people want it. His words and mesmerizing voice, and the camera panning out in the crowd of people of black and white people all standing side by side, knowing they all believed in the same thing, brings me comfort that the seeds of change can grow tall.

We all know that many went a long way to get there, and many had suffered hardships, but many kept the belief that they could, as a peaceful and powerful group, start wheels in motion for the rights that should have already been everyone’s.

Those wheels have been moving for 50 years now and we all have seen many changes. As President Obama said today, to diminish those changes would be a discredit to those who marched then. Of course there are changes! A black president made the speech today! That never would have been remotely possible 50 years ago.

But now equity must be possible for everyone, not just blacks. As the President said today, we fight a hard battle. Poverty keeps many segregated. The economy is an enemy now. Everyone is entitled to work and a proper education. Black, whites, Latinos, Asian and all that come to this Nation to make a better life.

All that feel pangs of prejudice and are discriminated against now deserve better. The handicapped, the gay community and any group that lies on the outside of mainstream America. We all are entitled to the same things. We deserve joy, enough to eat, clothing, shelter, medical care, a future. And we need to find it peacefully, not with violence.

So I look back with tears of gratitude and solidarity and look forward knowing in my heart that dreams can become reality. This is the legacy that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and all that marched 50 years ago gave to me.