Friday Reads: Sins of the FathersPosted: February 8, 2019
Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!
I struggled yesterday and today about sharing my experience Thursday morning with you. I had to go in for labs at the clinic of the hospital I’ve used for years. It’s a regional hospital and attracts people from all over SE Louisiana. It also sits within blocks of where Orleans Parish becomes Jefferson Parish. As such, it’s part of Congressman Steve (‘David Duke without the baggage’) Scalise who appears quite cozy in today’s Republican Party. You can never crawl away from history here. It’s a lesson I relearn frequently.
Now, I had the usual orders of not eating or drinking before these tests and I was loopy from lack of coffee. The minute they were done I headed straight for coffee at the snack bar. Relieved, I sat down, drinking, snacking on a cinnamon roll, and just sort of watching people come and go. Mostly, I saw a lot of elderly people being attended by a lot of what Mr Roger’s would call “the helpers”. This quote has stayed with me a long time. It’s always wonderful watching how nurturing people can be and how many take jobs where they patiently nurture and help all day.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
You can’t help but notice that the helpers in a hospital these days are quite diverse but in a big city you get to see all of humanity. I was sitting next to a helper whose job it is to see to any one needing assistance to get their destination. She was also watching every one come in the clinic door. At one point, an elderly white woman came in the door with her daughter who was probably a bit younger than me but could’ve been a lot younger. It was hard to tell. She immediately grabbed a wheel chair and began the process of getting her mother situated.
It was then I saw the black t shirt with white lettering and an equally white image. The top of shirt displayed “Get Bent” boldly. It was easy to read. The bottom lettering I never managed to get to because the image caught my eye and I started going through the “No, it can’t be. I can’t be seeing that” exercise in my head. “It’s a spoon!” I thought! “Yup. Bent spoon ! That makes sense right?” But, no matter how much I tried to talk myself out of seeing what I was seeing I had to admit my eyes were not lying to me. There was the twine of a rope. The twisted knot. The telltale loop. It was definitely a noose.
As that woman began pushing her mother’s chair by me, I turned to the black woman beside me, the helper, mouthing “Do you see that?” Again, I was hoping she could tell me I was seeing things. She said what? By that time the woman and chair were well behind us and I fought the urge to go snap a picture just so I could tell myself over and over that my eyes weren’t lying. “There’s a noose on her t shirt. A noose”.
The woman said, “Well that’s the sort’ve thing that is looking to start something.” She could tell I was fighting my instincts to chase down that wheel chair for a reason I cannot yet figure out. She saw me and suggested I take a few deep breaths and she started actually taking me through that process. She was a professional helper in patient care who was used to calming down nervous people in a clinic. She repeated my story to two other people while I was there and they looked at me. I told them, yes that’s what I saw and I am so sorry because I really have no idea why any one could be so openly cruel. My mind silently added, so openly cruel in a place where your mother needs help from every one whose job here is to give it to her and this is how you thank them. Every one employed at a hospital clinic is in the helping profession. Every person.
Today, I woke up to doing my usual coffee and reading of the newspapers in my own bed. The NYT had that picture of Tulane that’s up top there. I immediately recognized it but again, kept trying to tell myself that I’m just seeing things. I wasn’t. The date is 1987 and that’s clearly Tulane University. Again, Tulane kicked this frat out a long time ago but the students continue to join and go to school there and some subset of “grown ups in the room” let that picture get posted to a yearbook.
“Black people in general have had to deal with a lot of these things that have happened,” said Dr. David Randolph Sr., an oncologist in Richmond, Va., who graduated from Mr. Northam’s medical school in 1983 and recalled going to a party in the early 2000s and seeing a white couple dressed in full blackface as Venus and Serena Williams. “Everybody except me and my wife kind of looked at them as a matter of course.”
The frantic apology that Dr. Randolph received from the couple underscores what seems obvious: Blackface now and from its beginnings has been known to be offensive, “the filthy scum of white society,” as Frederick Douglass called it in 1848. That did not hamper its popularity. For more than a century it was in the mainstream of American pop culture, in Broadway plays and in Bing Crosby movies, before receding as the civil rights movement ascended.
But blackface has lingered, withdrawing into certain white settings cordoned off from public view.
I’m struggling with how I can best play a role in alleviating and eliminating racism in our society. Today, I feel like I’m clueless and inept. I guess my best response right now is to just turn to the black person next to me, let them know what I see and what I feel which is basically awful. I will let them tell me how best to respond or if I should respond. I just apologize endlessly a lot which really seems empty. I need to listen more.
Here’s some news headlines. I’ve been following including the Bezo/Pecker thing.
This link is from Allyson Chiu and Kayla Epstein at The Washington Post: “Ronan Farrow says he also received ‘blackmail’ threat over reporting on the National Enquirer and Trump”.
Last April, Farrow published a story in the New Yorker about the Enquirer’s “catch and kill” practice — in which stories are buried by paying off sources — that benefited Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
AMI did not immediately return a message from The Post about Farrow’s claim.
The allegations from Bezos and Farrow have since prompted other journalists and media outlets to come forward with claims that they too had been targeted by AMI for reporting on the Enquirer.
In response to Farrow, former Associated Press editor Ted Bridis tweeted a similar story.
Bridis claimed in a separate tweet referencing Bezos’s Medium post that AMI, the Enquirer and its lawyers “tried to shut down public interest reporting on tabloid’s work on behalf of Trump.”
The Daily Beast also reported that attorneys for AMI responded aggressively to two stories published last week that detailed Bezos’s investigation into the Enquirer. In its story about Thursday’s Medium post, the Daily Beast disclosed that during the process of that reporting, the publication “and a member of its staff were threatened by AMI’s attorneys.”
From The Boston Globe Op Ed page and Margery Eagan: “Race, not abortion, was the founding issue of the religious right”.
Here are some facts that might surprise you.
In 1971, two years before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion, the biggest white evangelical group in America, the Southern Baptist Convention, supported its legalization. The group continued that support through much of the 1970s. And the late Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority, did not give his first antiabortion speech until 1978, five years after Roe.
Though opposition to abortion is what many think fueled the powerful conservative white evangelical right, 81 percent of whom voted for Donald Trump, it was really school integration, according to Randall Balmer, chairman of the religion department at Dartmouth. The US Supreme Court ruled public school segregation unconstitutional in 1954. In 1976 it ruled against segregated private schools. Then courts went after the tax exemptions of these private all-white Southern schools, or so-called segregation academies, like Falwell’s Liberty Christian Academy.
The late Paul Weyrich, whom Balmer called the organizational genius behind the religious right, had long tried to mobilize evangelical voters around some hot-button issue: feminism, school prayer, pornography, abortion. But nothing lit a fire like the federal government’s threat to all-white schools. Only in 1979, a full six years after Roe, did Weyrich urge evangelical leaders to also crusade against abortion, Balmer said in an interview. That was, after all, a far more palatable, acceptable crusade, one with a seeming high moral purpose, unlike a race-based crusade against black children.
The powers that be always work to divide us.
From the Washington Post: “‘My whole town practically lived there’: From Costa Rica to New Jersey, a pipeline of illegal workers for Trump goes back years”. We continue to find out that Trump’s fascination with undocumented works seems to be purely political and purely related to race baiting.
At his home on the misty slope of Costa Rica’s tallest mountain, Dario Angulo keeps a set of photographs from the years he tended the rolling fairways and clipped greens of a faraway American golf resort.
Angulo learned to drive backhoes and bulldozers, carving water hazards and tee boxes out of former horse pastures in Bedminster, N.J., where a famous New Yorker was building a world-class course. Angulo earned $8 an hour, a fraction of what a state-licensed heavy equipment operator would make, with no benefits or overtime pay. But he stayed seven years on the grounds crew, saving enough for a small piece of land and some cattle back home.
Now the 34-year-old lives with his wife and daughters in a sturdy house built by “Trump money,” as he put it, with a porch to watch the sun go down.
It’s a common story in this small town.
Other former employees of President Trump’s company live nearby: men who once raked the sand traps and pushed mowers through thick heat on Trump’s prized golf property — the “Summer White House,” as aides have called it — where his daughter Ivanka got married and where he wants to build a family cemetery.
“Many of us helped him get what he has today,” Angulo said. “This golf course was built by illegals.”
So, if you’re really into farce, turn on the TV and watch what passes as an Acting Attorney General discuss what’s supposed to pass for a President of the United states.
So, I hope you have a great weekend. Remember to do something nice for the Helpers if you get a chance.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?