I think I’m a member of the 50% of Americans who, according to your election night philosophy-on-the fly rant, “…want stuff.”

Here’s a history lesson for you.  Let’s see if it helps you figure this thing out.

The first slave on my Dad’s side of the family was not African American.  He was a white indentured servant who arrived on a ship that left Liverpool in 1698.

He did very well for himself, indeed, after working off his debt.  We’re proud of that.

Later, someone in his family sired a few children who looked like my daughter.  Or…she’s half Hopi Indian, so they were probably a little bit lighter of skin than our girl. 

But they did very well, too.

The only slaves we know of on my mother’s side of the family bought their freedom, acquired, somehow, some land in Mississippi, and never asked for any kind of assistance, ever, from then on.

They would not be servants.  They did not wash clothes for white people.  They ate, and sold, what they grew.  And they didn’t exactly “prosper,” but they did more than just survive.

No one on either side of my immediate family would’ve dreamt of asking for anything they didn’t earn.   Ever.  Everyone in our family felt that being American meant giving back, not “taking.”

My father was a proud veteran of WWII.  When I visited the little town in Normandy where he’d fed the local children with whatever he could scrape up from leftovers from Army chow…they kissed and hugged me and called out his name with tears in their eyes.

That proud patriot and his wife worked two jobs when necessary, to make sure that I went to the best schools in Chicago and could attend the college of my choice.  I took piano and ballet lessons.  I graduated with honors.  I traveled to Europe.  I even got to see the little town in Buckinghamshire that bears our family name.

I hugged the sign you see as you arrive there.  “Home” at last…

I became a reporter for the Chicago Sun Times—won an award for journalism, later, in Arizona.

I married a Hopi Indian artist, raised our beautiful daughter to be proud of both cultures, and she, too, graduated from college as a member of an honors “sorority.”

And it was in Arizona that I became the first “Independent” our family had ever had.  They had always been Democrats.  I thought it was time that I tried to look at both sides—or all the many sides of every issue.

I was fully prepared, if the Republicans gave me reason, to vote for a Republican this year.

But a couple of things made me nervous.  VERY nervous.

When both of my proud parents got old, the health care system gave us hell.  I mean…hell.  There is no other way to put it.  I won’t divulge details, but I welcomed any help Obamacare might give to others facing the same ordeal.

My parents died before Obamacare.  But if they hadn’t, there are parts of that system that would’ve saved us a great deal of anguish after my father was diagnosed with both Alzheimer’s and colon cancer.

My mother also required a great deal of care as she entered her decline.  The things we had to do to just find care for her, toward the end, broke my heart.  I was glad she was no longer conscious enough to witness this.

She died believing in God and country, staunchly.

I had a few moments of serious doubt in the latter, if not the former.

I watched all of the debates.  As much news on both sides of the issues as possible—even European news, when I could.

I paid attention to races outside of my own state.  There were a few Republicans I might have voted for, but…they didn’t live in Arizona.  And the ones in Arizona scared me sideways, so...I couldn’t vote for them.

In the end, I voted mostly for Democrats, Independents and even a couple of Green Party candidates.

This is why, since you’re apparently having so much trouble figuring this out:

  1. NO one can tell me what I can or cannot do with my “reproductive system.”  At this point, old as I am, the point is moot, but my daughter’s young, and I refuse to allow anyone to legislate hers.
  2. As I said, the current health care system is broken.  And nearly broke me as I tried to deal with it.
  3. When someone calls me and the people I love lazy, and intimate that people of color or of “non-white” cultures, or who are simply poorer than they are somehow less patriotic, resourceful, ethical, honest or…fill in the rest of that as you will, I get very, very angry.   Because of the history I just offered.
  4. Countries that remain quite white, from France to Holland to…well…many places you can name yourselves, offer more “stuff” than America ever dreamt of.  Everybody pays higher taxes, everybody gets the “stuff” that buys.  I don’t hear anyone on the right side of this thing calling them lazy people who just want “stuff.”  Yet.

I’m retired now.  I retired early like my Dad, because I earned it, like my Dad.  I don’t take SSI yet.  Will soon.  Have no qualms about it.

I voted for Obama.  I am not lazy.  I don’t want “stuff.”

I want my daughter to live in a country that doesn’t make her feel “less than” because she comes from two cultures of color, and doesn’t make her wonder how she’s going to take care of me and herself as we get older.

I earned that, too.  Standing on the firm foundation laid by generations of ancestors who paid dearly to remain proud and free, before me.

Does that answer those questions?

Views: 18027

Comment by J.P. Hart on May 11, 2017 at 1:34pm


Comment by J.P. Hart on May 11, 2017 at 1:41pm

Oh well. I'm trying to spin the 1966 version of Peter, Paul mit Mary's Early Morning Rain but the BIGPHARMA COMMERCIAL DRONED ON FOR !* minutes.

there she goes my friend

you've prompted a VG op-ed, Key Ka. Enduring love to you and yours!

Comment by Rodney Roe on May 16, 2017 at 2:30am

I read an excerpt from 

When Colorblindness Isn’t the Answer:  Humanism and the Challenge of Race

last night for a discussion at our local Humanist group.  The discussion will be logical and largely unemotional.  That's what humanists do, but the message is very pertinent to your excellent article.  For you this challenge is very personal.  for the average White person it is unfathomable because of something called "White Privilege".  White Privilege is not about stuff.  You can be white and destitute and have white privilege.  White privilege assumes that poor white people are down on their luck and poor "other" are lazy.  White privilege assumes that "white" is normative, anyone who is not white needs to get in line with whites, but that will never be enough because they will never be the norm.  How to fix this?  Good luck, but the author suggested start by getting rid of two terms, "people of color" and "colorblindness".

"People of color" assumes that white isn't a color.  That term advances the notion of white privilege.  

" I am colorblind" furthers the divisiveness.  To quote the author, "It treats difference as a problem to solve as opposed to an opportunity for expansion and growth."

True colorblindness would not say, "I accept you despite your color." 

I used to work with Mocha skinned, nappy headed woman who described her family as "all mixed up".  She was white and Cherokee and black and neither a saint nor a sinner.  She was just a cool person to know.

White privilege is alive and well and will be for some time, I'm afraid.  It is ingrained in our psyche from birth in this country.  Let me give you an example: When I was in Vietnam I visited the local orphanage to help with any needed medical care.  Some of the kids were Vietnamese.  Some were mixed race; GI's kids.  I only saw the ones whose fathers were black.  The ones whose fathers were white just looked like Vietnamese.  it took me months to figure this out.

I'm sorry about your parents healthcare.  When I was in Arizona as an intern in the late sixties the Indians got treated at the Indian hospital unless they were Yaqui.  The Yaqui were actually a tribe from Mexico who had been driven out because of mixing their own religious rituals with Catholic ritual.  They lived around Guadalupe and had an annual income of less than $1,000 per family.  Because they had no treaty with the U.S. they were not eligible for Indian Service care.  We took care of them at Maricopa County Hospital for nothing, but there was always a big rigmarole when showed up in the Emergency Room getting them admitted.  I saw Yaqui kids with diphtheria who had never been vaccinated.  I understand that the Yaqui are eligible for care now.

And, incidentally, my quite white daughter left Arizona because our quite white granddaughter had a kidney transplant and our daughter was afraid that Jan Brewer and her ilk were going to cut off Medicaid funding for her daughter's care.  Arizona was a nest of racist libertarians when we lived there.  I've ranted long enough.  Thanks.

Comment by Rodney Roe on May 16, 2017 at 2:52am

I just shared this to Facebook.  I hope a few people will look at it.

Comment by Rowan Bupp on May 16, 2017 at 6:28am

What my dad (Hi, Dad) didn't add, was that after leaving Arizona, we moved to Oregon. We migrated here, as working poor, because the state has a tiered Medicaid system. They had it before Obamacare took office, so we were fairly confident it would survive the whims of national politics. This structured benefits sytstem allowed me to complete both my undergrad and master's degrees with relative confidence that my daughter would not be at risk due to living marginally above the federal poverty line. Thanks to this opportunity, I now make a comfortable living and am putting my husband through school, while (Yes!) funding our health insurance. Best, yet, I'm paying taxes that help to lift other families out of poverty. Believe it or not, I am grateful for the honor of paying taxes. It's my way of saying thank you to a government--you know, we the people--that allowed us to flourish. It is my way of being patriotic.

Comment by J.P. Hart on May 21, 2017 at 10:36am

Johnny Cash - Sunday Morning Coming Down

Comment by J.P. Hart on May 26, 2017 at 1:43am

'.  . .they had always been Democrats . . .

and the 'alternative' would be??

Swift boats?  Have we forgotten the dimly lit corners?

Those who have, "suffered and died?"

I mean: REALLY?


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