Monday, September 19, 2005

A forgotten tragedy?

All the unexpected lawlessness in New Orleans made me remember the L.A. Riots. What a chilling few days that was. Why is it no longer discussed? Doesn't any one remember what a shocking wake up call that was to the racial chasms that still exists in this country? The boiling pot of ANGER!!!? Someone once told my husband and I- "Yeah but that Rodney King was a trouble maker, he got what he deserved" What? There we go again. 2 realities. What planet are THEY on?

I remember watching the trucker dragged from his semi and the beatings playing over and over and the store fronts being burned and saying to myself this is only the beginning, this is a warning, a wake up call. Am I endorsing the lawlessness? Of course not. It was sick and demonic. Doesn't mean we should dismiss it too easily or cover it up. Hate begets Hate.

A world without opportunities or hope is a world without Spirit.

And a world without Spirit is a very scary place. There is no remorse. There is no conscience or cause and effect. There is nothing but the void.

I remember it was a few days after the initial explosion of lawlessness in downtown L.A. and other racial tensions were popping up against law enforcement nationwide. My husband and I were in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for a day or two. He was meeting with Professors at graduate school and I was job interviewing in Downtown Milwaukee. We were to meet at the hotel after my last interview for the day. I had been in radio already 8 years but was just 25 at the time. The atmosphere, environment, and sounds of downtown Milwaukee were entirely different upon exiting the interview than they were BEFORE the interview but I had never been to the city before and didn't think too much of it as I turned the corner to get some fresh air and ponder my day of interviews on the 5-6 block walk back to the hotel.

The closer I got to the hotel however, the more the fear was palpable. I had always been told I'm a very intuitive person. Empathic certainly, to the point of FEELING literally your pain. And intuitive as well to the point of almost being psychic but at that time, I didn't know anything about all that stuff. And the physical symptoms were beginning now. Clammy skin. Breathing faster. Like your having a panic attack but you don't know why. So I looked around and realized it was strangely quiet. The hotel was now just 2 blocks way, maybe a block and half. Up ahead on the left side of the honestly deserted streets, a group of 5-6 young men, who happened to be black (had nothing to do with my fear- but their rambunctiousness did) were running full steam ahead, I had no idea if they could see me.

Then it clicked in in rapid form. Because as always, I'm well read. Comes with the job. Well it did, in all my years in radio all my partners praised me as being the most well read pardners they've ever had, but I digress.

L.A. Riots. Unease in the world. I've been shut out of news all day in meetings. I looked down at my attire. Black pin striped suit. Briefcase. I may be as poor as any body in this suit but I look like a rich, priveledge white girl. And well, for most part I AM priveledged for world I've lived in I thought. God, make me invisible right now I prayed. As I walked faster.

The teens ran on to a city bus just 200 feet or so in front of me on the other side of the street. And began rocking it. Almost to point of tipping it. I jogged past it to a near run at this point. Got to side door of hotel. Locked. Then ran to corner and took right to main entrance of hotel. I nearly ran into a black woman was near the entrance crying hysterically. Calming her down calmed me down. She was visiting Milwaukee with her husband but got seperated from him. They had been shopping but then they shut down Grand Avenue as some thugs had taken over the mall!!!

I'll never forget her face. Because fear has no racial lines. She was just as afraid as I was if not more. Lawlessness is lawlessness. And when logic is thrown out the window and your in midst of it believe me, no matter how rough and tough you think you are, it rattles your cages a bit!

I have been told by some very bright spiritualists that I have Sioux warrior in me. Native guides and Native history in my soul. I always believe that is where I get my love for all things Native American and my strength. Strength comes from that, my mother and late Grandmother Bertha- mother of 15, and Spirit. I've endured plenty and I'm no wussy. And let me tell you, I was scared plenty. First time in an unknown city. I was just so glad my husband was along with me. If only I could get to him.

But I told this sweet woman who looked to be in her 50s, that I would stay with her as long as she liked. But that I must call my husband to let him know I was downstairs and all right. It was years before we gave in to cell phones which seems odd now doesn't it? So I called him, he was watching a baseball game nearly oblivious to what was unfolding beneath his window. We canceled plans to go to the outdoor Brewers game. A bit disappointed and anxious to get "home" even though we'd be moving back to the "city" in a mere months. We ended up liking Milwaukee a whole heckuva lot. Even though a classmate friend of my husbands was victim of a terrible, terrible crime. I once drove by roads noone drove by, like Martin Luther King Drive. Just to see it. Just to see how really rich I am. Even though I felt poor alot of the time gettin by on my own with no help from my parents or my husbands parents. How many people never drive by? Why is so invisible to us? Because it makes us uncomfortable? Because we don't feel we can make a difference anyway?

As I watched the lawlessness in New Orleans it struck me, how we never hear about that awful, ugly week in our nations history? Ever!

And I also wondered, in the nearly 15 years since have we even moved in inch in healing the racial tensions that exist in this country?

Something to remember to pray for NOW.

Meantime. Peace be with us all. Believe.--- Jill

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