Dine with a ‘heartland’ racist?

So, I read this article:

Heartland Democrats to Washington: You’re Killing Us

In the parking lot, Goodin ran into a man wearing a well-worn cap with a well-known slogan: “Make America Great Again.” Delmis Burns, I would learn later, drives a truck for a living and has known Goodin for more than 40 years and votes for him every time he runs because Burns, despite his preference in the presidential race, is in fact a Democrat. The two men fell into easy banter, and it didn’t take long for Trump to come up. Burns is still pleased with his choice. “They give ’im hell,” he said, “and he gives it back.” At some point, Burns began talking about the time he was asked at work to train a new driver who was Muslim. He refused. “They’re taught to be nice to you,” he told Goodin, “and then they blow you up.” The comment floated uncomfortably between the two men, although maybe it was just me who felt like that — and the gregarious Burns soon was talking instead about his hat, and some guff he had gotten from somebody who wanted to “knock that off your head,” he said. “I told him, ‘Everybody’s gotta be doing somethin’ when the good Lord calls.’” That got a laugh out of Goodin, and before saying goodbye to Burns, Goodin asked about his “grandbabies.”

Here in this not even 10-minute interaction, I thought, was the nub of the Bustos report — and the challenge it presents to party leaders who will be asked to grapple with its primary recommendation that Democrats focus on economic matters and steer clear of confrontation on contentious social issues.

Well, shit. This guy is afraid of being blown up by the Muslim driver he was supposed to train, and just loves him some trump. If I sat down in a diner in his ‘heartland’, what honest message would he have for dark chocolate me?

What would he say about me when I leave the diner?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

I am tired of hearing about the frickin ‘heartland’ — land of Fox true believers — and the identity politics nonsense. All politics have always been identity politics. It’s just that conservatives are in their happy place when that identity is white. Preferably vehemently Christian and Fox watching.

You know what? I could watch Fox for a thousand years, and it would cause me to recoil, and fight even harder to take political power out of their hands.

I am a New Yorker, born and bred in the city. We have our ‘heartlands’ on Long Island, and Staten Island, and upstate New York, and so many other areas where fear of the other rules the political process. Even so, my family’s basic approach to people, and NYC public schools, gave me an admirably diverse upbringing. So I am angry at the heartland people whose casual racism makes them comfortable with trump. Daily, they insist I should indict my culture — hence their continued inane bleating about ‘Chicago’. When do they take responsibility for their own communities?

I intend to do the whole letter writing thing this year, to do my part to reach out to folks around the country to help the likely Democratic leaners to register and to vote. Just like I have been for years as an expat, I’ll use https://www.votefromabroad.org/vote/home.htm

As for the Democratic Party, I think Gov. Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy is a great idea. We should support folks like this Goodin fellow if the people in his district are so blindly conservative that this is the only way to get a Democrat into office. We need the votes on key issues to undo trump and the republicans’ monstrosities.

But make no mistake — I want a reckoning for the heartland. I want a public admission that trickle down is errant reaganite nonsense. I want a clear confession that trump has always been a racist, two-bit scam artist who makes those people comfortable in their racism.

I want people like Delmis to face consequences for his blind, corrosive hatred, whether it comes to that Muslim driver trainee, or proudly chocolate me.

making my morning make sense

Being inconsistent is my main morning habit.

But I know I can do better, and I want to. Got a few key projects bubbling, and I intend to bring them to a boil. That means doing little planned things every day, instead of the big world-changing revelations that my ego believes it requires. Since I know planning is a big percentage of the battle, I’m planning, then doing. Little bit of planning, like setting up my browser-based online courses so it’s easy to roll out of bed and use them. Little bit of doing, studying in concentrated bites, rather than going for long sections of time, and failing. Little bit of planning, like figuring out the chicken and tofu and veggies for my crockpot, then preparing to grab them and go. Little big of doing, like, um, grabbing and going  🙂

How will I know it’s working? If I actually publish more, because I’m making more and so have more to publish.



writing prompt: Before I was born

I was borne on winds of change
April showers comedy on a couple of
beautiful churchgoing souls
Bold, my father was
grey his eyes, red brown his hair
skin in chocolate-drenched sunlight
He opened eyes wide at the wide
delicate smile of my delicate mother before
she was my mother.

She stood straight upright, unbowed,
despite her father beating her mother
despite my unknown and beloved aunt, her sister
dying too soon, despite the iron lung
Despite South Bronx tenement living and
raucousness all around her
My mother was not loud, was proud
was never allowed to
be her dream, the one with needle and thread
in her head, she stood tall with her paper all in order
business like water
flowing into empty rooms
it would behoove
Daddy to work as hard as butchers
must, but he just
didn’t get that money
was fuel for more than
So it took Mom and jars of pennies and
empty pockets and
hidden envelopes and brown
bank books and
Daddy’s hurt looks and
at the end of the week, the
Finance people who lied about being
Superficially before I was born
my moneymind was set in the bone
But that alone will not
stop my march to the dream that seemed to
drive my mother, with Daddy at
her side
Somehow they ride my shoulders
and steer to the very best stars

Terri MacMillan
The Tokyo Writers Salon May 2017