Suegra, no te vayas todavía.
No he aprendido sanar las heridas
que tu partida va a dejar en él.
Eres tú quién siempre le ha curado.
Todavía no sé consolarlo como tú.
Ramiro Gomez creates homages to the immigrant workers of California:
It was 6:30 am, and we were groggily but hurriedly filling our plates at the continental breakfast, trying to get out the door and on to the airport, when I overheard a few voices complaining about Martin Luther King, Jr. having a holiday. They were mocking him, and one was noting how “ridiculous” it is that he gets a holiday, but that all of the presidents collectively just have President’s Day (I suppose not realizing how ludicrous it would be for each president to have their own holiday). Appalled, I looked over and noticed that it was a couple at one table and a woman at the next table, and that the latter was wearing a hotel name tag. I resisted doing anything for a moment until I heard her say sarcastically something like, “I guess we have to celebrate that man…Hallelujah!”
I put down my plate and approached her.
“Can I help you?”
“Just looking at your name tag.”
“Did I say something to offend you?”
I can’t be sure exactly how I responded because the adrenaline was pumping, but I basically told her that she could have whatever horrible opinion she wanted, but that at work she should be more careful about what she says.
She said indignantly, “Report me.”
And I fired back, “I will, happily!” before heading back to the buffet, probably visibly flushed and shaky.
As I took my bagel out of the toaster, she must have started thinking about how much she values her job, because she suddenly started trying to be really helpful, offering us butter and cream cheese and pointing out where the apples were on the other side of the room. A man throwing his plate away said quietly to me, “good job.” My sister and I quickly left, and were halfway to the airport before my heart rate returned to normal, and I started to pity this woman and wonder if I should really report her or not.
Maybe she’s only ever been around people who espouse such views. This was quiet, rural, inland Central Florida. Maybe she’s never been educated properly about Civil Rights, and never had her ideas about race challenged. Is that ENTIRELY her fault?
After I dropped Jen off and headed back to Orlando on 417, the sun was gleaming on Lake Jesup and in that moment I was both so grateful to Dr. King for his work, and so sad and sorry that today, more than 40 years after his death, there is still so much race-related animosity, ignorance, and inequality.
I don’t know if the right thing to do has already been done, and that it would be cruel to threaten this poor woman’s employment, or if she personally needs to be held accountable for something that is still so deeply ingrained in the culture of many people in this country. I think I will let it go and just hope that somehow her worldview was affected at least a little bit today.