To Taste the Smells of Distant Shores

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To taste the smells of distant shores

contents of wares within wooden crates

heaved on sturdy shoulders

to reach my hand between the wooden slats

and feel the relics

like silk between my fingers

those tastes of memories.

 

To taste the smells of distant shores

teas and spices peddled by steadfast merchants

exotic oils purified and funneled into blue glass bottles

the dusty threads of ancient Persian carpets

woven by still, sure hands

the taste of skill and craftsmanship

of those who came before.

 

I want to taste the smells of distant shores

the ports of entries open

for senses to rouse

for eyes to open

in harbors safe

a saving grace

exposure to

the new.

 

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Speaking out against bigotry

I was never a fan of George W. Bush when he was our U.S. President. In fact, I was very angry with him at the time. Time changes things.

Five or so years ago, I saw him and President Clinton speak together at a forum about education. Bush was not only likable but funny and quick witted.

Today, George W. has spoken out against bigotry and white supremacy.

“Our identity as a nation, unlike other nations, is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood. … This means that people from every race, religion, ethnicity can be full and equally American,” he said during remarks at the George W. Bush Institute in New York City. “It means that bigotry and white supremacy, in any form, is blasphemy against the American creed.” 

“We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism — forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America,” Bush said. “We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade — forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism.”

 “Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children, the only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them,” he said.

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He never mentioned the current President by name. But it was there, between every line.

Way to go, Mr. Bush. Way to go!

To see the speech, click here.

 

Noting a few of our immigrants

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”― Franklin D. Roosevelt

“A nation ringed by walls will only imprison itself.”― Barack Obama

“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations And Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and previleges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.”― George Washington

Just a few of our American immigrants:

Born Desiderio Alberto Arnaz III on March 2, 1917, in Cuba, Desi Arnaz fled Cuba to the United States with his family in 1933.

WHAT WOULD WE HAVE DONE WITHOUT I LOVE LUCY?

Chef Wolfgang Puck immigrated to US in 1973 from Austria.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Born in Austria in 1947. Moved to the U.S. in his 20s after winning the body-building title Mr. Universe.

Madeleine Albright, Czechoslovakia: Born in Czechoslovakia in 1937. Immigrated to the U.S. in 1948; studied at Wellesley College and Columbia University. Served as the 64th U.S. secretary of state from 1997 to 2001, and was the first woman to hold the job.

Elie Wiesel, Romania Born in Romania in 1928. Deported by Nazis to Auschwitz in 1944. Placed in a French orphanage after World War II, he later moved to New York as a correspondent for an Israeli newspaper. Author of more than 30 books, many of them dealing with the Holocaust and Judaism. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for his efforts to fight violence and racism.

Bob Hope: Born in England, Hope was one of seven boys. The family immigrated to Cleveland, Ohio and Hope was naturalized at age 17.

Joseph Pulitzer (Journalist & Publisher) 1847-1911 from Hungary. Eldest son of Hungarian Jews, Pulitzer’s father died when Joseph was 11 years old. His mother remarried and Joseph was educated in Budapest. In 1864 he immigrated to the U.S.

Samuel Goldwyn 1882-1974 Poland- Movie producer and Goldwyn-Mayer studios in Hollywood

Angela Lansbury, actress:Lansbury was born to a middle-class family in central London, the daughter of actress Moyna Macgill and politician Edgar Lansbury. To escape the Blitz, in 1940 she moved to the United States with her mother and two younger brothers, and studied acting in New York City.

Yo-Yo Ma, Concert Cellist from France

And, Irving Berlin, from Russia, who wrote:

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featured image photo credit

 

 

Oh, Say Can You See?

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… of the United States, have elected a new president and I spent most of yesterday in the dark, literally.

Do I blame those who voted differently than me? Of course not. Our forefathers gave us that right.

The ground beneath me (perhaps yours) has cracked and shifted. Like a desert with no water? I hope not.

Oh say can you hear?

–how the voices on both sides were loud, strongly opposing, and severely divided.

On Tuesday night, did we form a “more perfect union?”

Do you hear Lady Liberty’s song, the lyrics still tucked in my brain after singing them almost every day in my elementary school music class?

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No, not anymore. Not anymore.

We have chosen a different kind of candidate. “In order to form a more perfect Union”?

Oh say can you feel? Why I am sad? Bear with me here.

I follow politics, but I am not a politician. I am not skilled in the workings of politics nor do I hold a public office.

But I do hold something else and have carried it for a long time.

I was a quiet hippy kid in high school when our psychology class took a field trip to the state school that housed our mentally impaired. After other classmates had shooed her away, a five-year-old girl with Down Syndrome climbed up my (then) skinny body like I was an oak tree. We clung to each other as if life depended on it. For me, it did. Her grip so tight, the attendants had to peel her away from me. But I never forgot her, that little girl who helped me choose what path to take.

In high school, I avoided conflict. In speech class we had a student who kept to himself. He wore thick glasses and could read only if the text was an inch from his face. One day we had a fire drill. My speech class, including this student, left the building and united with others on the school grounds. A popular football player pushed the boy, laughed, called him a name.

“And the rocket’s red…” glared.

The quiet, non-conflict Carolyn tugged his sleeve and yelled, “Hey! What are you doing!”

I had shocked myself. But I had discovered that indignity was too powerful for me to ignore.

Mr. Trump brought back that memory. To me, he was that bully who not only mocked that reporter but pushed my classmate with the thick glasses.

At UT Austin, I went from studying Special Ed to Early Childhood. After tugging my professor’s arm, I was allowed to student teach at a Title XX  low income center where I interacted with children of all races and religions. I learned.

And the man said, “I like kids. I mean, I won’t do anything to take care of them.”

I graduated, ran a Child Development Center, taught my staff about  bias-free education, and how to implement it in their classrooms.  I spoke at state and local conferences on why teaching tolerance was so important to, not just our country, but to our world.

Intolerance scrapes, tugs and wrenches my insides.

People with disabilities, African Americans, Mexican Americans,  women, the LBGT community, children, illegal immigrants, Muslim Americans, (the list continues) all of us, want to see a better world, have a better life.

Some used to proudly say America is melting pot. I  believe we are a beautifully tossed salad and, in our giant bowl, each ingredient adds a special flavor.

I have to believe that we are not a union of intolerance. I do not want to believe that intolerance motivated people to vote for Trump. But if he won the electoral vote because his voters wanted change in our government, I can accept the decision. Because that reasoning trumps intolerance.

We are all huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Let’s just huddle a little closer to one another and let freedom to ring for all.

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