Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Four Essays---"When And Where I Learned About Racial Disparity" & 2 Portraits Of Poverty---"Georgia And Zorro" & "Can't Find My Hat" & How People Victimize And Profile Others: "Targeting"

Many recent interactions with both drivers and customers have gotten me to thinking thematically, thinking just what it means to be racially profiled and the often related consequences.  Oddly, I learned much of what I know today upon the subject way back in the years between 1957 and 1959 when our father moved us into a Toledo, Ohio housing project.  Though only age 3 when we arrived, I quickly received unforgettable lessons concerning racial tension and how it affects individual behavior.  In my book in progress, "To Age 13," I delve deeply into that period so this essay is designed only to be the briefest introduction to racial hatred becoming violent and dangerous.   To this moment I see myself chased across the field pursued by an adult swinging a baseball bat, trying mightily for a momentous home run, my head his baseball.

When and Where I Learned About Racial Disparity

Logic was not my father's focus, instead decision making his personal game of darts, randomly hitting the target and following it, and of course taking us, his family, along.  In deciding to return to his birthplace, Toledo, Ohio, he chose as our new home in 1957 that teeming cauldron of angry, displaced blacks known as the Ravine Park Village housing project, and amidst that roiling sea placing on us the solitary Caucasian street, the project's version of a DMZ zone, theoretically immune from the prevailing poison.
As that wasn't true I soon found out, my parent's setting me loose at age 3 upon the projects, not thinking through what they were doing to me as I wandered the streets learning about life and the world around me.  Why I was soon targeted I can't tell you, other than I was white, and the animosity around was a different color, even resenting a little boy incapable of doing them any harm.

One day my tricycle was destroyed.  Another time I was threatened for approaching a sizzling barbecue.  Then, upon an errand for my mother, a towering black man chased and swung his baseball bat at me.  But the crowning event, and perhaps my death save my neighbor's intervention, was being chased down by black teenagers and tied to a pole tighter and snug.  To this moment I see him, our artist neighbor running down the slope screaming as the teenagers fled, leaving me to thank my rescuer, taking me back to his place.

Yes, this is how I was taught beyond all doubt about America's race relations and how angry everyone was, somehow not taking it personally, instead remaining curious of what did it have to do with me, a little boy trying to stay alive, holding no ill will toward those who wanted to kill me.

Concerning my father it was entirely another story, disliking the man who I knew to be a fool, not fun discovering at age five your own father a dunce.  But being a little boy what could I do about it?  Nothing was the answer, there being nothing I could do except ignore both him and my mother which I did the best I could until I left at age 15, age 16,  age 17, and finally, 18.

I needed parents but truly mine didn't exist.  Some children pretend.  I wasn't pretending, Ravine Park Village a very real place, for me and my assorted assailants, a home not a home, a hell very far from any version of an imagined heaven floating upon our unconscious minds, all of us wanting to leave.

And we left! not sorry to leave!


The next two essays are about two kinds of poverty, one total, the other "working yourself to death" poverty.  Neither is a pretty story but the reality facing them and others sharing their situation: a grinding down to the bone.

Georgia and Zorro

Georgia is a Flathead Indian living in Kent, Washington but not for long, down two months rent and no ability to pay the $2,600.  She has been sharing the cost with her  sister but when the sister failed to receive a Social Security Review notice she was dropped like a "welfare hot potato," fating the both of them, along with Georgia's service dog Zorro and two cats, onto the streets. And since their total combined monthly Social Security equals just over $1,500, it means they have almost nothing left over after paying the rent.

Where is their free choice?  Instead, prisoners of an unfeeling culture they have no alternative but to remain enslaved to a situation not of their making.

Despite her age, Georgia is childlike, someone, like so many North American aboriginals, not belonging to the modern world, adrift upon a rushing river quickly taking them over a sheer and deadly cataract.  Zorro too has given up, grief his mood, depression his immediate reality.

Together they tell a story no one cares to read.  Soon, too soon, they will be dead, and no one will remember, dust strewn upon the wind.  They will be dead, that's all.

"Can't Find My Hat!"

The most important fact of this true "life-as-it-really-is" tale is the figure of $165,101,172.00; or to make it plainer, the Seattle Mariner's total 2018 payroll is One-hundred & sixty-five million, One hundred & one thousand, & One-hundred & seventy-two dollars and no cents.  I mention this because the middle-aged woman living way out south in Normandy Park was on her way to the Angle Lake Light-rail Link station so she could serve hungry baseball fans at SafeCo Field.

Having almost cleared her apartment complex, I had to turn around as she realized she had forgotten part of her uniform, her hat.  Watching the meter tick I became concerned that she was having trouble locating it, and sure enough, she came back in a panic, "They are going to fine me!"

As I sped forward, she talked to herself aloud, wondering just where that hat could be.  By the time we arrived, she sounded resigned to whatever fate awaited her.  She even tipped me a dollar.  And this is someone making the local minimum wage.

Want to guess how much "the King" Felix Hernandez is making this year?  Just over twenty-six million dollars.  And shall we estimate what she made during the game?  Just about $110.00 or so, minus the fine of course.  Now we know why Hernandez is Royalty and she is what, just what is she during these baseball games?  Does anyone want to guess?


This final essay is all about profiling, about how people just won't let other people be, letting them walk down the street minus all opinion.  Always, always, members of our species continually comment, silent or not, about others good and bad.  Can people just stop themselves and shut up?  No, the answer is no, they can't, it being far too much fun making someone else your personal business!


She stood on the street in front of the Victoria Clipper ferry pier extremely conscious she once again, as always, was on display for every one's long nose sticking itself into her private sphere, not wanting anything else but to walk on her way just like anyone else, just as it is her right to do.  But no, as she knew too well, everyone wanted to look at her, the men for obvious reasons, and their wives too, for motivations slightly more nuanced.

Escape?  No one escapes from the staring and judgmental eyes.  If you are brown or black, you are potential trouble.  If you're fat, you are disgusting.  If you are rail-thin, you're distasteful and culturally unacceptable.  If you are young teenagers laughing, you are boorish and immature.  And if you are a hippie, you stink, everyone knowing you require a quick bath.

And if you think it isn't so, just ask a passing cop.  They'll tell you all about it, they really will!

And if you're grabbed by the collar and pushed into a wall, you can thank that great liberal GOP Bloomberg, the once mayor of NYC reminding everyone who is young and black and proud that it wasn't a good idea six years ago and it still isn't, you being what you are and you damn well better not forget it!

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