A few of my close friends have recently called me out of my quiet re: the very dark and hurtful clouds that have passed over us these past few weeks. Without nitpicking details, they encouraged me (actually kind of insisted) I step up to the plate and share my truth and my story. So okay, here goes...*
I consider myself a blessed man. I have a wonderful (extended) family and many friends. They are of many faiths and beliefs and were born here or immigrated here and collectively represent roots that reach back to almost every known people and place on this earth, our one and only home.
They represent a rainbow of heritage, customs, cultures, and color. They may be considered white, black, brown, yellow, or red and every conceivable mixture thereof, but I simply call them my friends and loved one’s because that’s what they are to me. I’m not colorblind, we all come from somewhere and the river of life is a long one.
Many are married raising children, many are retired. Several are single, divorced, on their 2nd or 3rd marriage, and some are LBGT. They are artists, writers, small business owners, doctors and dentists. They are military, police, and fire, and other first responders of every kind to emergency when we need them. Some are janitors and store clerks, musicians and teachers, truck drivers, entrepreneurs, engineers, and many work in the real estate and title industry because that’s where I’ve been for the past 30 years.
Some are rich, most are not, and a few I know are currently homeless. Some live in mansions, most do not, and a few live in trailer parks. I’m proud to call them all friends, and not lightly so, because they are all good people and like me they just want to be happy, find some peace, and enjoy life in these the United States of America, land of the free.
They are generous, caring, and pay their taxes. They obey the law and contribute not only to family, friends, and neighbors, but to those in the community they don’t even know, just because they need a hand up and the help.
I have to be careful in these times because I have a tendency towards the empath. With the horrendous happenings and hyperbolic media (including the social media) hype, I can only take so much then I withdraw and get quiet. It really shakes me up and I simply can’t process it.
But I refuse to go to the dark side.
I appreciate the encouragement to get me out of my quiet and to my often silent truth, though I admit it kind of scares me. I do believe good karma begets good karma and I practice that each and every day in my own way.
As a 66 year old white guy I well remember a different crazy fearful time, the late 1960s and early 1970s. We got through it all somehow, but media then and the ultra-right talking heads were puking all over us that we were but a total loser stoner generation of dropped out hippies. What we actually were was the younger generation and we stood for peace. Most of us were just collectively saying, 'let’s just try to love each other and give peace a chance'.
If you’re of a certain age you’ll remember the extreme backlash that was stirred up over John Lennon’s release of Imagine. Seriously? It was simply a ‘what if’ love song to one and all... I was there. I remember... It had nothing to do with any kind of upset to the world order or destroying our God given right to capitalism. We weren't trying to destroy anything. It simply put forth the question, just Imagine if it were different and we got it, we really didn’t need anything but each other.
It’s not just about race. Haters are haters and history teaches us they have existed for a very long time. Unfortunately and obviously recent events show us haters are still here and among us.
These recent terrible events bring up memories and conjure up a different crazy time for me. I recall a night after band practice in Burien in 1967. I got run off the road and literally got the shit kicked out of me by some skinheads because I had long hair and displayed a peace symbol decal in the window of my car. I’m white. They were white.
In 1970 I was playing a gig at a bar in Algona. This big drunk guy wearing a 10 gallon cowboy hat comes up to me and demands we play a song we didn’t know. “What’s your name, anyway?” My name is Rene. “That’s a girls name you faggit,” and he lunges straight at me with fists to fury. I was playing bass that night and quickly turned and aimed the neck straight at him. Jumping off the stage I popped him mid chest with all my might and knocked the wind out of him and he dropped to the dance floor. Yay for me! I’m white. He was white, and a F’n redneck.
One night in the early 80s I got roughed up pretty good by three guys who jumped out of a car while we were walking down Broadway on Capitol Hill, Seattle. They yelled many obscenities and took some swings. They obviously didn’t know this kid was a scrapper from Renton. I grew up on the ‘other side’ of town and stood my ground, so they jumped in their piece of shit car and sped off... I’m white. She was black. They were pasty white wearing black and chain with extremely spiky rainbow mohawks. Quite a site!
To be fair, because haters have no ethnic boundaries, I was in the Central District one late night in 1968 to enjoy and support a performance of live music by my black friends. Oh, did I mention the alto sax player was the token white guy? Totally awesome Funk band they were! I stepped outside to have a smoke and four gangbangers were going to teach this honky a good lesson for being in their hood. Thank goodness for my good friend Big John, 6’6”, 300+ pounds, the bouncer. He literally grabbed me by the collar and whisked me back inside and saved my ass! I’m white. They were black. Big John was way bigger and black.
A friend in need is a friend indeed!
I was at a party in Auburn back in my just after RHS high school days. Eduardo insisted I be there because his family wanted me to attend. It was at a rental hall and a wonderful evening with live mariachi music, dancing, and food. I even sat in on a few tunes. Yet, there were some cholo’s out back smoking chains and pounding drinks. When I came by they were making secret Spanish (they thought) and talking about what they should do with this guero when he left. Really? I told Eddie and he and several guys, my friends, escorted me safely to my car and watched me drive off. I’m white. My dear friends were Latino. The Cholo’s were Latino.
Actually I haven’t thought about these encounters for decades. I could go on with several more but I think the point is more than made. Life lessons taught me good people are simply that, good people, and no matter their religion, color, or culture, they are or they are not, good people.
I choose my friends because of their heart, not their color, job, or religion. Friendship and freedom are earned and learned and most of us get that with mutual respect. Social media connects us and just because a few take to the bully pulpit and spread lies, fear, and hatred doesn’t mean we should stop connecting. In fact, we’re better for it if we make these connections count even more.
Yet let me say this, I will unfriend any and all who spam my walls with prejudice, bigotry, idiocy, stupidity and feed the beast of hatred. I have an absolute zero tolerance policy. And that goes for stupid unfounded bullshit accusations in the political arena too... Feel free to express your opinions, I love them and feel no need to agree, if they’re well intended. But if they’re unfounded, cruel, and/or malicious, well, XXXXXXXXXX and bye bye...
So much about people freaking out these days is dealing with change. It has accelerated and we’re not done yet, in fact it's just beginning. I’m sure you’ve noticed. That’s not going to stop anytime soon. We’re all naked now. It’s not my fault. I’m adjusting too.
One of the most absolutely amazing revelations in our time is the Human Genome Project (HGP). While decoding the genetic DNA puzzle it was unexpectedly found that there really is no such thing as race. Skin color and physical features are just variations of our same species, mostly created by the tribes hyper local gene pool and its location and climate over time.
Absolutely everyone alive today on this planet can be genetically traced directly in an unbroken line on their mother’s side to Mitochondrial Eve. This convergence back to the one (not biblical) Eve mother happened between 100k and 200k years ago. Yes, there were other mothers then, but Eve is the only one to produce a direct unbroken female line all the way to now. So literally speaking, like it or not, no matter who you are, what your color, your faith, or where your roots originate on this planet, we’re family.
So give Mom some love, because she’s my mom too!
In closing, in the infamous words of my late father while playing and bickering during a neighborhood pickup baseball game in the vacant lot next door, preteen, 1959, “Goddamn it you guy’s! What the Hell! Jesus Christ! Why can’t you all just get along and stop the fighting? I’m telling you right now if you don’t knock it off there’s gonna be some hell to pay and some sore rear ends too, because I’ll be talking to your dad.”
We got along...
*Originally blurted out via my personal Facebook page, July 10, 2016 with just a little tiny bit of editing to correct a few grammatical errors and stuff and to hopefully better articulate and clarify a few points... Need I apologize for the way Dad used to actually speak frequently to our lord and savior back in the day? I would hope not. Much of my life I disagreed him. Today, I miss his his love and opinion.