The week of protest

_C1_9503.JPGHave you kept up this week?

Millions of marchers took to the streets in all 50 states and around the world the weekend of President Donald Trump’s inauguration to protest sexism and sexual assault and shout a full-throated message of inclusion and diversity. A week later, thousands more have protested against the president’s plan to build a wall on our southern border and his Friday executive order that sharply curtails the acceptance of refugees and other immigrants, particularly from horror-filled Syria and other Middle Eastern countries. Meanwhile, more people are fleeing war and persecution than at any time in recorded history.

The Trump administration said the order would help protect against terrorists who could be among refugees’ ranks, though this is vanishingly rare. (It’s worth adding the risk of being killed in a refugee’s terrorist attack is about 0.000003% that of dying in a car crash, according to the National Safety Council and the conservative Cato Institute.) The order certainly made a splash, slamming the door on students, families, allies of U.S. armed forces and others on their way to the U.S., earning bipartisan criticism and sparking worries over whether the executive branch would obey court orders against it.

_C1_9430.JPGOne of the protesters was this woman above, Simone, whose mother escaped the Cambodian killing fields, where more than 1 million people lost their lives at the hands of a dictatorship a few decades ago. She and a couple hundred others turned out in downtown Fayetteville with signs quoting the Statue of Liberty’s plaque and Biblical passages. They urged the White House to keep the door open for refugees and other immigrants no matter their religion or homeland.

_C1_9427.JPG

_C1_9453.JPG

_C1_9513.JPG

_C1_9521.JPG

_C1_9488.JPGI’ll add one more thought: Support a newspaper, even if it isn’t the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. I’ve written about the effects of refugee, health care, climate change and immigration policy and will do everything I can to keep doing so — and I’m just one reporter at one paper. This is shaping up to be a defining year of my lifetime and in the country’s history, and even if it’s exhausting for reporters and readers alike, we absolutely must keep trying to learn about what’s going on and what it means.

Thanks for looking, and keep your eyes open.

Dan

Who we are

t_parade-17.jpg“Our country has changed,” Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote three years ago in a majority opinion that found the landmark Voting Rights Act was being used unfairly against several states with histories of intimidation and violence toward black voters. Black voter registration has equaled white registration in many of those places and more have minorities in office, Roberts said, concluding the set of states covered by the act is based on outdated information.

The victorious lawyer for the Alabama county protesting the voting law took a more sweeping stance: “There is an old disease, and that disease is cured.”

There are plenty of things I could point to in order to show how wrong-headed this statement was, but this past week has been especially gut-punching. Following the presidential election, racial and religious assault and street harassment seem to have spiked. (Hate crimes last year jumped, too.) Black freshmen at Pennsylvania State University were unwillingly added to an online chat group about lynching. Groups of students across the country, including here in Arkansas, have led chants of phrases like “white power,” an American Nazi slogan. Speaking of Nazis: swastikas and other anti-Jewish nonsense are all over the place.

It’s all pretty nauseating and alarming and scary.

So I’m going to show a snapshot of the America I know a little better, the one that’s home to people who are black, Christian, urban, female, civilian, old, liberal, Jewish, transgender, straight, Buddhist, rural, military, gay, male, Native American, Muslim, conservative, white, atheistic, young, Asian, native- and foreign-born. I’ve seen them farming, dancing, building, worshiping, marching, laughing, crying, leaping, relaxing, serving and celebrating, among all of the other things we Americans do.

This is a tiny piece of who we are.

_C1_8882.JPG

_C1_7315.JPG

_C1_9831.JPG

IMG_9570.jpg

_C1_5526.JPG

_C1_1220.JPG

_C1_0500.JPG

t_0811-Dinh-Quang-7.jpg

_C1_8968.JPG

trans2.jpg

_32I7145.JPG

_32I7836-(2).jpg

_C1_5650.JPG

IMG_9783.JPG

_C1_8106.JPG

_C1_1135.JPG

_C1_6759.JPGStill, the truth is none of this is new. We’re the country that elected Barack Obama, and we’re the country that had several slaveholders among its founders. We’re the country that sings the praises of Martin Luther King Jr., and we’re the country that elected a successor to Obama who, despite his denunciation, is endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan and its ilk. We’re a country that holds up the immigrant or refugee seeking a new life as an idyllic symbol, and we’re the country that began by attacking the indigenous people and consistently treated each new wave of immigrants with suspicion or outright hatred.

All of this is who we are. We have countless things to do if we want to change it, but I think we can start with two: seeing and meeting and learning about each other a little more, and never saying or thinking that racism and other prejudices are “cured.” I know I’ll do what I can on those two things, at least.

These are just my thoughts, incomplete or flawed as they might be. Thanks for looking, and I wish you well.

Selling Flowers

IMG_9639If you see people at Fayetteville’s Farmers Market walking around with fistfuls of boisterous lilies, pale puffs of virburnums and other bright flowers, chances are they came from the Dripping Springs Garden stand, where there’s always a line for the blooms and organic vegetables. A woman there named Nancy has bundled blossoms, matched up customers and available workers and overseen the swarm for more than 20 years. She has a quick smile, keen eyes, a lined face, flyaway hair and a bright gingham dress, so I asked to take her picture.

IMG_9647Yesterday was a solid market day, bright and warm and crowded. Down the block from the flower stand, another swarm gathered around a row of painted doors.

IMG_9594An Arkansas artist named V.L. Cox painted them, and apart from the bold colors and messages on those doors, I suspect they also drew a crowd because Fayetteville is still working through a years-long debate on the proper rights and protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; an election on whether to punish discrimination against them in their workplaces and homes is coming up next month.

Anyway, have some more photos.

IMG_9613

IMG_9605

IMG_9595

IMG_9611

IMG_9609

IMG_9621

IMG_9620

IMG_9657

IMG_9586Thanks for looking! And have a good Sunday.