I’m still riding high as a result of the elections. It was so great seeing so many propositions that I like pass, so satisfying having the president remain where he is, so refreshing having a mayor who is a friend. I mean, hey, I’ve been voting since 1959 and this has been a real new experience for people of my voting kind.
I’m just basking in these wins because there have been propositions voted on in the Golden State in the past that have affected me personally. Like 187. When that became law I went from a school principal to “la migra,” which just wasn’t a fit for me – so I was forced to tell the school system and whoever else was listening that they could stick that inhuman idea where the sun does not shine. Proposition 8. Now that one didn’t sit well with me either because who somebody marries, as long as it’s not to me, is none of my business.
This time “We the People” chose death over life imprisonment, a surprise to me, because in my idealistic mind I chose to envision us, as a society, as a little more compassionate than that. Next time, perhaps.
But, on the whole, this election was like electoral karma of some kind for me, taking my mind off the hateful and hurtful propositions and messed up local and state and national politicians that have come along, and teasing my imagination about what could come to be.
I hate borrowing words from a Mickey D’s commercial but “I’m loving it,” the invigorating energy of it, the good vibes rushing through my bones. It’s a feeling that warms me like the sun peeking through clouds on a chilly day, radiating just enough heat to make me a wee more comfortable in the world, a bit more hopeful.
Such sentiments of optimism, however, actually began a little before the election. For a while, now, I’ve been sensing a gradual change in our collective thinking. Like, at my alma mater, the U of A, not too long ago, there was a cartoon in the Arizona Wildcat featuring a father saying to his little boy, “Ya know son… if you ever tell me you’re gay… I will shoot you with my shotgun, roll you up in a carpet and throw you off a bridge…” and his son says “Well I guess that’s what you call a ‘Fruit Roll Up'” and then he laughs “Ahh Ha ha ha Ha haaa…” and his dad joins in with “Bwaa Ha ha ha ha ha haa!!!”
But in response to such gross insensitivity, the Tucson community held a forum and entertained ways to keep such nonsense from ever happening again. In my day no such cartoons or reaction would have taken place as LGBTQ wasn’t a concept to us, at large. The “closet” was as deep and wide as the Grand Canyon.
But a new day has dawned. A couple of days after these goings on I sat on the grass in Balboa Park as Sandra Fluke spoke in behalf of Planned Parenthood and women’s rights. She’s such a bright ray of that sun that peeks through the clouds.
Then, on the next day such a rosy beat played on. I got to hang out and share a poem called “Jim Crow’s Jig is Up” at a Black Storytellers event that began with African drums and libation, the pouring of a liquid, to honor those who came before us – then dancers and music blended with all the stories that were told and songs that were sung about our ages long struggle to keep our eyes on the prize, beginning with our ancestors who were crammed inhumanely on the slave ships in the middle passage, to the veiled spirituals filled with couched words that implored a people to struggle until they’re free… Ah, that sun peeking through the clouds spoke loudly to me in those moments, telling me to “keep on keeping on.”
And a few days later I listened as the man who was to be my new mayor spoke of making San Diego everybody’s city: people of color, gay people, homeless people, rich people, struggling people, regular Joes, plain Janes. All that he had to say spoke volumes to my soul and my brain.
The next evening I kicked back with people at the Barrio Station who are friends of the Border Angels who work in behalf of undocumented immigrants in a spirit of “Compassion and Justice for All,” the theme of the night, giving them, in their desperation, water as they cross burning deserts and freezing mountain paths, just trying to stay alive, and live with dignity.
How can hope not feel so alive in moments like these?
And I’ve never felt more hopeful than I did on the next day, a Sunday, two days before election day, when I had the privilege of supping with Jerry Brown and a number of other folks, taking it all in as he, every few minutes or so, took calls regarding how his folks on the ground for Proposition 30 were doing. Watching him work for children and their schools from his dinner plate was a sight to behold, a sight overflowing with promise.
Then came Election Night, an evening that began for me and my beautiful sidekick at the San Diego Rep where we, with the cast of a Hammer, a Bell and a Song to Sing, sang songs that shaped our nation, songs about change, songs of freedom imbued in our cultural DNA, songs that made you feel, in the moment, that yes, “we shall overcome.” I was transported to the 60’s in my memory. Before the last song was sung we already knew that Obama had won through the magic of our cellphones which weren’t supposed to be on. We made our way to the Community Concourse to join all the fun and when that magical day ended we were one happy pair.
So much sheer joy literally filled the air that we breathed. But we knew the work was just beginning because that’s just the way it is when it comes to molding a world into how you’d like it to be. But we’re going to go with this great feeling until the cows come home (but we’re not letting them on the property). To people who think as we do, the sun peeking through the clouds is a hint that it could eventually break through and begin to shine ever so brilliantly. What a world that would be.
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