On Interrogating the Statues of Dead Men
Words Across World(z) - On Woman In Berlin and Its Relation to a Recognition of Grand Civil Rights. And Stuff. - Jeremy Munro
I'm pretty much all about diverse diversity. I'm all about a perceived repeating of myself too. Also I'm all about the plight of people in Berlin the in the final days of and immediately after WW2. Especially the German women. The mass rapes, the violence of the Soviet's putting down a hard earned revenge on the innocent masses, well everything went full circle there. They were paying in kind for the wrongs inflicted on their people. Wrongs that have been ignored by the West I'd say. This is pretty polarized for me. Normally I'm not so cavalier about throwing wrongs and shit. I'm just saying, some crazy shit happened then, but in the mire of human beings thrown to their almost teleological end, there were some crazy insights like this one “Talking in the line, I find myself coming down a level both in the way I speak and in what I say, immersing myself in the general emotion – though this always leaves me feeling a little slimy and disgusting. And yet I don't want to fence myself off, I want to give myself over to this communal sense of humanity; I want to be a part of it, to experience it. There's a split between my aloofness, the desire to keep my private life to myself, and the urge to be like everyone else, to belong to the nation to abide and suffer history together.” Funny how someone in a different time and with a completely different set of circumstances can come to the same thoughts as me. Funny how this woman, who incurred rape at the hands of Soviet regulars and then had voluntary sex for protection with a First Lieutenant and later a Major could think something thought across the board by many people like her. But anyways. Its cool how people can have the same ideas.
"Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God." -Aeschylus
I was only around 9, but I remember very vividly hearing hearing Robert Kennedy's announcement of Martin Luther King's assasination. I still remember the tension and hopelessness of the atmosphere. It was the first time I had heard of Aeschylus, and I resolved to read about the ancient Greeks who could say such things.
I have an even more vivid memory of standing at the bus stop just 63 days later and having a neighbor run out of the house and tell me that RFK had been assasinated that night in California. I had the feeling of being caught in the swirl of events that were out of control and it felt like the world was ending, but I remembered the calm words he had left us with at the death of MLK.
My civil rights story was a memory of my parents getting a phone call saying that my older sister who was away in college at Goucher in Maryland had been arrested while trying to integrate a movie theater in down town Baltimore. When she came home on her next break she spoke about having her contact lens solution taken away so she couldn't swallow it to commit suicide. She was in jail with many others who were protesting with her and was out on bail after a night. My parents supported her effort and I have always been proud of her for her brave action.
In 1992, my husband and I were living in the Los Angeles area in a town called Gardena. We had lived in our neighborhood for a little more than 2 years and became close friends with one or two of our neighbors, but hadn’t met everyone. One evening my husband was sitting on the front lawn while our two dogs played around him. One of our neighbors ran out of her house screaming for help because her husband was having an epileptic seizure. My husband ran over to help her by staying with her husband to keep him from hurting himself while she called 911. Once everything had calmed down and they were settled again, my husband came home and the event was soon just a past memory.
Several weeks later, the 1992 Los Angeles Civil Unrest, also referred to as “the Rodney King Riots” erupted. The sky was filled with smoke from fires in surrounding areas and people were filled with fear from the news reports of violence and anger. Driving home from work that first evening took almost 3 hours for what was normally a 30-minute ride. When we arrived home, there was a note on our door inviting us to meet with the rest of the neighborhood in the middle of the street. As we joined the rest of the group, one of our neighbors, who we then discovered was a minister, asked everyone to join hands in a circle and pray for the safety of the city and the end of the violence. The minister was the same man that my husband had sat with weeks earlier when he had an epileptic seizure.
After the prayer, the people in the circle started introducing themselves and we met the rest of our neighbors for the first time. We agreed that we were safe if we stayed on our street, and there were offers to share milk, food, and baby diapers so there would be no need to leave the street to venture out to a store. One of the neighbors announced that we should create a block club right then and there. Another neighbor took a look at my husband and I and hesitantly said, “I don’t think this is the right time to talk about a club.” It took me a minute to realize that this man didn’t want us included. At that point the minister’s wife spoke up and told the group what a wonderful thing my husband did that day when he ran over to help her with her husband when he was in distress. She went on to say that my husband’s actions were the perfect example of being a good neighbor and a good person. She said, “This is exactly the right time to talk about creating a block club.”
It’s important for me to tell you now that my husband and I are Caucasian and we lived in a Black neighborhood. I had never felt discrimination because of my race before until the moment it became clear to me why that man did not want us included in the block club. He didn’t even know us. He made the statement based only on our race.
That day will always stay in my mind. That day was when I not only experienced racial discrimination, but actually understood what it felt like.
Carol Richards, CAP-OM