Today in the USA

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Asha Deliverance, left, the mother of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, leans in and embraces a woman who approached her at the vigil. Photo by Beth Nakamura/Staff, The Oregonian/OregonLivecaption.  

I almost feel guilty as I write—80+ people were killed in Kabul today and I am focused on two men who were killed in Portland, Oregon, a few days ago. You may have heard about it: three men formed a wall between two young ladies (one wearing a hijab) and a man who was verbally accosting them on a public train. Two of the men ended up dead and a third was seriously wounded. A vigil was held the following evening at the place the attack happened. Here are some photos from it; click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

I am convinced that heroic actions take place every day in our world, but we frequently don’t hear about them. This time we did. It happened not far from my house, across the street from where I grocery shop, and just around the corner from our weekend farmers’ market. I didn’t attend the vigil that was held for our local heroes. But the reports from those that did spoke of the kindness and love that was evident—and the gratitude for those who had stood up to hate.

Right now, from outside of the US, it may look as if our country has changed since our new president was inaugurated. And in many ways it has. Some people are more comfortable making and hearing racist statements than they were before the election. They feel they no longer have to be “politically correct” and can say and do whatever they feel. After all, they are just following the example of the president.

But many people are not accepting these “new norms” and are actively and quietly doing their jobs to make sure the laws of the country are upheld. A few examples follow.

  1. When the “travel ban” was abruptly instituted, a group of state attorneys general worked diligently over the weekend to prepare the case to take to court on Monday morning. Many corporate attorneys whose companies were affected, university attorneys whose students were stuck overseas, and other interested legal organizations gave up their weekends with family to help prepare the necessary documents.
  2. Amidst the noise of ongoing “Russia investigations” and leaks and counter-leaks, the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and his staff are quietly doing their jobs—investigating the accusations and finding out what actually took place and what didn’t. It may look from the outside as if nothing is happening because you will hear no tweets or leaks from that group—they are just doing their jobs.
  3. I belong to a local neighborhood online group. Two weeks ago, there was a post with a lengthy list of furniture and clothing needs for a recently arrived Syrian family. Within a few hours, the items were donated and the family had a comfortable home to settle into. And it wasn’t the first time the neighborhood had pitched in; this was at least the third similar request in the last six months.

So what is my point? Individuals can and do make a difference. Everyday. In the most unexpected places and in unexpected ways. Kindness matters. Civility matters.

Cultural Detective provides a method to help us understand others who are different from ourselves. It provides a way to listen and understand another’s view, whether or not you agree. Get a clue and check out CD Online—and use your intercultural skills to share a little kindness in a culturally appropriate way.

Response to Time’s “Yo Decido” Cover

I am blessed to have a comadre who is one incredibly intelligent, wise, and loving woman. Her name is Carmen DeNeve, and she is Mexican-born, living and teaching for decades now in Los Angeles California.

A day or so ago I posted this Time magazine cover to my personal Facebook wall. Many people shared it, as it’s exciting – that the voice of Latinos can be so strong in the USA!

Well, I heard very quickly from my comadrita. I find Carmen’s response so important and quite thought-provoking. It tells a tale that is true for countries around the world with new immigrant voters, I believe, and I’ve received her permission to share it with you here.

“Comadrita, I wish, but too many issues here. First, I wonder about the numbers who really vote and are well informed, even if the total figure is huge. I’m working on this where I teach because some Latino voters have called me the night before election day to ask me, ‘Who do I vote for?’ Or doubting if they should vote. Their thinking is if they don’t study hard about who they need to vote for, maybe it’s better not to exercise their vote — sounds almost sacrilegious.

I think we need neutral political education for new voters like many Latinos, but it doesn’t happen, unfortunately. I want us to be prepared to vote, not only exercise a right that is precious. That’s why later some people blame the victims! And, maybe rightly so.”

[Additional comment from Carmen the following day:] “Dianne, I started reading the article, but I don’t like that journalists give misleading information and manipulate facts, exaggerating such as YO DECIDO. Out of the 50.5 million Hispanic/Latinos they mention, or 17% of the total US population, not all of these can vote, of course. About 10.2 million according to the Census 2010 are not authorized in the U.S. (undocumented) and of course there are more in actuality. This brings us down to 40.5 million potential voters. BUT, from this number there are those under 18 years of age, which roughly I calculated looking at last Census data to be in the 18-20 million range. The recent Census data show roughly one in four children under the age of 10 in the U.S. are Hispanic.

So we don’t really have 50.5 million voting if we take out 30 million not able to vote! This leaves us with 20 million potential voters. Do all vote? Unfortunately not so. I’m trying to educate those who can vote from among these 20 million in my community. They are adorable, but not interested in politics rather focusing on survival. The education of these potential voters will take a long time.

On the other hand, the manipulation of numbers is unbelievable as we all know. I see it as a big scheme for what? I wish, I wish we could all vote and we could actually be 50.5 million and not for example only 13.7% possible voters in Colorado. So I don’t get how we will pick the next President.

We are as diverse in political issues as in religion and socioeconomics. The Miami Cubans seem to have little in common with the Sacramento Mexicans or the New Mexico Hispanics or the Chicago Latinos. But if they want to present us as a common strong block that’s their prerogative, but misleading after all.