Saturday, November 19, 2016

Side trip: Denny's, somewhere in the Deep South

Somewhere in the deep south last night, a conversation took place. On one side of the table sat a white, 50-something high school graduate who draws like Donatello, loves comic books, and works at a textile mill on the second shift (previously introduced as True Heart).

On the another side of the table sat my beloved Transgender priest Cameron, the mural artist, past Presbyterian now Episcopalian, was a factory worker currently (for the last 13 years if you don't count sporadic art commissions), late in life post-graduate school educated partner.

On a third side sat me, the youngest 50 something, over educated, under payed therapist. A couple of tables away sat the usual Trump voters, staring at us suspiciously, guy smaller than the physically born guy at my table. You know the type. The "I want to punch you in the nose" person with his date. Yes, he listened to the entire conversation. No, it isn't coincidence that several times True Heart turned to stare him down or to remind the guy that he's much bigger.

The wake of the election has rolled over our friends. While main stream America resumes their normal lives, we live on MSNBC and CNN, with occasional forays to enemy camps like The Hannity Show (radio) or Fox News to see what the other side is thinking. But even those closest to us are watching 60 Minutes as if the president-elect speaks truth and preaching "lets all get along". Meanwhile, Trump spent the week appointing a cabinet which promises to be racist, terrifying prowar, and more interested in lining his own pockets than serving the people. So when True Heart facebooked a reminder of when he gets off work and where to find him, we went.

True Heart is not part of the elite. His parents are comfortably middle class, but after a divorce and five years of unemployment (ever wonder what happened when textile mills closed in the south - the great untold story) he lives with a friend, lives paycheck to paycheck, and works long hours in a textile mill. Wages in textile mills were never what they were with Labor Unions up north. Now they are even worse than they used to be. But after five years of unemployment, when this company found out the hard way that their oversees saving program had to come home when they couldn't find people with experience to do the job...unlike most folks in ended industries....True Heart went back to work. He'd spent most of the night on his knees and belly crawling around in machine oil, and since he wanted to give us a hug, found a throw away vest to keep it off of us.

So we dissected the election, the fear, the ominous warning signs. We talked about George Takei who has been teaching classes for years about the Japanese interment camps but has suddenly been invited on to Fox MSNBC and interviewed by the NYTimes and Washington Post and tells us:
"Stop and consider these words. The internment was a dark chapter of American history, in which 120,000 people, including me and my family, lost our homes, our livelihoods, and our freedoms because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. Higbie speaks of the internment in the abstract, as a “precedent” or a policy, ignoring the true human tragedy that occurred."
It was our friend, Misbehavin' who, before her death, created the logo for George "It's OK to be Takai" in the Star Trek communicator shape and rainbow colors on t-shirts. There were only a few exactly like that because of copy write laws, before they marketed similar but less illegal versions. I have the original. I have to wonder what she would say now. I promise it would have been loud and in your face.

We talked about risk, our friends making plans to leave the country. I can't leave, I said. Too many cats. I'm too old. All excuses. Truth is, my job is here. Cameron agreed, and did True Heart. Despite our awareness of danger, we stay. But we aren't putting our heads back in the sand. We won't ever go back to "normal" while this man is president. Or Pence is VP.

And I wonder. How many more conversations are out there? Plans being laid to hide friends who are at risk of deportation. Finding ways to support civil rights? Americans' wait and see attitude got us here...and I fear where it will take us.

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