Friday, March 11, 2005

Anger has abated and life goes on ...

The anguish flushed out by Michael's death gave way to nesting bird calls, spring blossoms, and blue skies, and a quick return to today's headlines that dwarf's all that's gone before as I share concerns with the rest of my country about our administration's behavior in the world. Funny, I can be passionately African American for short bursts of time, but my pure and unadulterated "American" patriotism does tend to crowd out all but the most egregious offenses against "my people." when the need arises. I'm just as defensive about this nation as any other, maybe even more so because of the great sacrifices and indignities suffered by my ancestors over the centuries. Our investment in this country is huge -- as are my demands that we live up to the promises made so long ago by those slave-holding sexist old dead white men. Despite all, they laid the groundwork for one grand social experiment -- one that needs each of us to protect and defend ferociously. It was never more than a skeletal framework, maybe, and must be re-created by succeeding generations in order to hold and keep operative. I keep reminding myself of that each time the paralyzing anger rises and chokes off my breathing as it did from time to time this past week.

I remind myself that there was Mt. Shasta, after all, and Ashland and NIAD and Dorian's fascinating artwork -- all in the foregound to keep me whole.

Life has a way of thrusting me into the future day after day and there's less and less time to look back. But the lessons are there in a past that holds as much wonder and pleasure as it does pain.

Have been invited by the National Park Service to speak before a national gathering of educators on April 3rd. Will be recalling my World War II experiences in Jim Crow America. I've become the Park Service's reluctant Rosie -- to my surprise, and will be brought out again to utter the unspeakable. It may mean something that the country is finally able to hear those stories alongside the innocuous Rosie tales of ladies holding up the homefront while the men battled overseas (all to the tune of "Little Brown Jug"). It's becoming easier to allow myself to publicly stand up against the conventional stories in favor of re-invigorating the lessons that should have been learned and were not always.

Participated in a phone interview with the West County Times -- they're doing a story on NIAD and Dorian (along with other artists, I believe). A reporter and camera person visited with her the day before at class. It was interesting that the call came as we were visiting the Art of Living Black exhibit at the Richmond Art Center. It was easy to walk around in that environment and relate Dorrie's work in context while talking on my cell phone -- a sign of the times.

Received a call from one who is organizing a major demonstration at San Quentin Prison in relation to the impending execution by lethal injection of Stanley "Tookie" Williams. His last appeal was turned down by the Ninth Court of Appeals and only the Supreme Court now has the power to save him; or action by the governor. We're hoping that enough doubt has been cast to allow this state to re-instate a moratorium on the death penalty. Maybe the increasing number of exonerations and the re-examination of death row cases has changed the climate in the nation and change is now possible. But it will mean returning to the emotional roller coaster of the debate again. It seems such a short time since the last vigil ... .

But today we-re going to visit the Strybling Arboretum in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Been anxious to see the glorious butterfly section and the orchids collection. There are things in life that feed the soul -- the arts, the theater, music of all kinds, and the natural wonders. To let them pass without notice is to shorten one's life, I believe, and reduce one's supply of inner-ness with which we learn to withstand the chaos and continue to grow until time runs out and we become a part of the all again.

It's spring!

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