Change is the Word

Change is the Word

So, I went to see Lee Daniels’ The Butler this weekend and found it emotionally powerful and riveting. Wow. I cannot tell you how many times I got all teary with a major lump in my throat. But, once I … Continue reading

Love That Bob!

Love That Bob!

Earlier this summer I told you I was dating–for the first time in eons. Well, here’s what you didn’t know. I’ve been dating someone famous! (Actually, this isn’t true, not in the least!)

Or maybe I should say, someone infamous. Really infamous. Cross my heart, hope to die infamous. (Now, this is true.)

Maybe he’s a bit of a lothario. You could say he looks like Don Rickles and and even tosses insults like the comic himself. And without a doubt, he’s in a bit of hot water with all kinds of people. Make that boiling water. Even had to check himself into rehab, but he was such a good patient, he ended up doing a two-week addiction program in less than one. Faster than you can say, “Bob’s your uncle!” Continue reading

An Undocumented Youth

Last fall, I was captivated by a man I met at a screening of a PBS documentary called, America By the Numbers, which is all about the changing face of America and its impact on the elections. He was one of the speakers and, as he spoke, I was struck by how much he knew about immigration and its influence on presidential politics.

Wong at age 11.

Wong at age 11.

He talked in a thoughtful, soft-spoken sort of way. And, as he presented a slew of statistics, the conversation soon turned to undocumented immigrants, and more specifically, to him. Quite matter-of-factly, this expert on immigration mentioned that he, too, had been an undocumented immigrant.

The entire audience, 100 or so of us, did a collective double take. Did we hear right? Had this scholarly young man, a faculty member at a prestigious university, just say he grew up as an undocumented youth?

Yep, it’s true. His name is Tom K. Wong and I was so taken with his story that I had to interview him. So, just before the holidays, we sat down and chatted about his life, his dreams, and his mission to help other undocumented immigrants become citizens, too.

I learned so much in our short time together, but the biggest takeaway for me was realizing that when most of us think of undocumented immigrants we picture a Latino face. A Mexican face. But in doing so, we are missing the point.

Undocumented immigrants come in all shapes and sizes and from all parts of the world.  True, there are many undocumented Latinos living among us.  But there are also countless undocumented Asians, Europeans, and Canadians. They don’t all “climb over a wall” to get here. Nor, are they all smuggled into the country. Some arrive on planes or trains. Legally at first, with a visa, and then the visa expires and they’re still here.

For the undocumented children, who were brought here by their parents, this may very well be the only country they know. They have friends here. They’re going to school here, and playing kickball, too. And often, they don’t know the truth about themselves.

There are many paths to becoming an undocumented immigrant.   But there are so very few to becoming a citizen.

And, the undocumented are not all migrant workers, maids, janitors, and the like. Some have white-collar jobs. Like Tom, who is on the faculty of the University of California, San Diego.

I hope you’ll read my interview with Tom that I wrote for my new Hey Neighbor! blog. His is quite a fascinating story.

Please be sure to read Tom K. Wong on Life as an Undocumented Youth  and do let me know what you think! Here’s a preview:

Tom K. Wong is haunted by a childhood memory. It is of being awakened in the middle of the night by his mother, and being taken into the hallway, along with his older brother. There, she held them both tightly and sobbed while helicopters hovered overhead…(Click here to read more.)

Ohio, Meet Your Newest Resident!

Remember when this was the election refrain heard coast to coast?

Florida, Florida, Florida!

Well, if you ask me, nowadays the refrain has changed a bit. So, instead of the Sunshine State, it’s the Buckeye State you hear about 24/7.

Ohio, Ohio, Ohio!

Which is why, I’m moving to Ohio.  After all, a gal like me likes a little attention now and then. And, what better place to get it, than Oh-HI-Oh, home of the Cincinnati Reds, America’s first professional baseball team, and where the official state rock song is, “Hang on Sloopy.”

Well, Sloopy, move over. From now on, if anyone’s doing the hanging in Ohio, it’s gonna be me.

Because being from Ohio means hailing from the number one SWING state in the land. It’s going to give me a lot of cache with the politicos, if you know what I mean. The powers that be. The grand poobahs, and all that.

In other words, I’m heading there to find out what it feels like to be wined and dined by none other than President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. We’re going to trip the light fantastic and dance the night away!

So, my bags are packed, my flight is booked, and I’m ready to go. From now on—or until Election Day, whichever comes first—my days will be filled with pep rallies, town hall meetings, community dialogues, a slew of robocalls, and watching a gazillion political ads all aimed at moi, an Ohioan from way back. And, by way back I mean today.

I better get a day planner so I can be sure to organize my schedule, which is going to be as full as Scarlett O’Hara’s dance card at the Confederate Ball. After all, I don’t want to miss any photo ops with the candidates, any pie-eating contests with Paul Ryan, arm wrestling with Joe Biden, shopping sprees with Ann Romney, or planting a Victory Garden with the First Lady.  And that’s just for starters!

After that, Ann and I will friend each other on Facebook, have a good laugh at the women on The View, for daring to expect the Romney’s to appear on their show. And, Michelle and I will exchange recipes for Stuffed Zucchini and Spicy Eggplant Salad. She’s a healthy eater, you know! Then, we’ll tease the president until he serenades us with another tune from the seventies. Or not.

I imagine that this is how Ohioans are spending their days, volleying from one political event to the next, accepting bribes—I mean, gifts—from the candidates, such as free pizza, submarine sandwiches, and attending free Bruce Springsteen concerts.

Yes, I’m going to just love being courted by both sides of the political aisle. Maybe I’ll even get to be on TV, when I ask the candidates the question that’s on every Ohioan’s lips. The elephant-and/or-donkey-in-the-room question, which goes like this:

“Which do you prefer, Akron or Cleveland?”

Sure, it’s all fun and games until Election Day approaches and then, just like that, they force you to pick one. Ever wonder why the undecideds take so long to decide? Because, just like me, they enjoy being courted. That’s why!

So, please don’t make me pick just one. Not just yet, anyway. I mean, can’t we keep the “love affair” going and postpone Election Day another six months? Puh-lease??

For everyone knows, that once it’s over, it’s over. The die is cast, and all that. And, if you ask me, breaking is up is hard to do. When the day comes, when all the votes are tallied, then every Ohioan will become little more than a wallflower. Unwanted and ignored—until 2016, that is. So, until then, we’ll be going back to our former, ordinary lives, back when we weren’t so darn special.

Back when we were just 11,544,951 ordinary Ohioans, minding our own business.

Make that 11,544,950.

For, after the elections, I’ll be packing up my bags and heading back to California. After all, I know where I’m not wanted.

Race 2012 – How Can We Get Along if We Don’t Talk?

Created by Totsy Mae for the Race 2012 Blogging Project.

Have you been following the Race 2012 Blogging Project? Well, let me tell you, there’s a conversation going on in those posts. A conversation that has been both eye opening and revealing. Candid and personal. I have been amazed by some of the discussion that has come out of this project.  Kudos to all the bloggers who have been participating, and to all who have taken time to read these blogs, reflect on them and contribute to the conversation. I value what you’re doing, and am in awe of your courage to come forward, and say,

“Yes, I will talk about race in this election year. Yes, I will speak up and share my experience, my frustrations and my beliefs. My hopes, too.”

If you haven’t yet read these posts, visit the Race 2012 Blogging page on this site for a complete list. It is worth your time. I want to particularly thank Totsy Mae for creating an exquisite work of art just for the blogging project. Totsy, you are one talented lady!

The bloggers’ posts have been so good, it’s not enough for me to just list them all. Which is why I’ve gathered some of my favorite excerpts to share with you. These quotes, included here, truly resonate for me, and I hope they give you some food for thought:

I felt like I was in the minority for the first time in my life, with my trip to Egypt, my love of a young Arab man, who just happened to be Muslim…I saw things a little differently and…grew angry as people were screaming about immigration, as if the only immigrants in America were Latinos – what I wanted to scream from the top of my lungs was that we were all hurting in some way due to the cultural misunderstandings.”Destination Unknown

“I tickled Ruby’s back while answering her question about what might have happened to her had she stopped to drink out of the wrong water fountain during the Jim Crow era. That pebble was more like a river rock. And I’m not going to lie: I feel like there’s an anchor weight attached to my heart every single time I lift that veil.”Thematically Fickle

“I can’t begin to tell you how many times people have tried the old post-modern ‘race is not an issue’ argument since the president took office. But as a person of color, I know what is not said is often much louder than what is said.”BoomerWizdom

“The worst thing to do with a problem is to hide it. It festers, grows more powerful. The more we speak up about what is wrong in the world, and suggest how to makes shifts, the more chance we have of digging ourselves out of this mess!” Heal Now and Forever Be in Peace

“As we come to the inevitable conclusion that the issue of ‘race,’ seems to be the proverbial ‘elephant in the room,’ we try to find common ground, so we can talk about issues that matter to us.”Meditating Mummy

“It’s hard to have an honest conversation because many times we’re not being honest with ourselves about race. Sometimes we know we’re being dishonest, other times, we aren’t aware of it. It’s hard. But we all, regardless of color, have to keep trying.”She’sWrite

“Undoubtedly, the word ‘race’ has taken on a much broader meaning in this election.  Rather than dancing around this fact, I’d like to think…we can move the conversation forward in authentic and meaningful ways.  The perspectives of common, everyday folk are intriguing and varied, but are rarely heard above the din of endless news spin, popular opinion, and media sound bytes.”SomerEmpress

“We might not be Racist, we might not be a raging flaming outright Bigot but these are very different animals from carrying that seed of fear and that ember of racial bias. We are by nature Xenophobic; we fear what is different from us.”QBG Tilted Tiara

I was raised by parents who taught me that everyone was equal. That your race meant very little in the scheme of things. That your race might define your culture, and that’s great, but it would never define your abilities or character.”By My Ink

And, one more:

“So, you think not talking about race makes it all better? How does that happen? Has it been working for you? Why do you think folk want to have this conversation?…If I may ask a handful of other questions, can I ask you what folks mean when they say we want to take our country back? Why are they so angry when they say that? Do you feel the same way? Do you think there’s a racial divide in America? You don’t see one? Do your friends who don’t look like you see one? You just want us all to get along? How can we get along if we don’t talk?” Totsy Mae who wrote a post that invited her readers to answer a series of questions—and the response was off the hook!

The documentary, Race 2012: A Conversation About Race & Politics in America, airs tomorrow night on PBS (check local listings), along with the next presidential debates. I encourage you to tune into both!