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Snow White and Black History

Positively Speaking

Donald Trump. Well, my goodness is he just something or what!?

My host family for the year and I have divergent views on politics, but this we agree on: Donald Trump requires the shaking of the head. Yes, he is scary. But what is really scary is his following.

So probably on Vashon I’m going to get a pretty hearty Amen! But there is this. We are a floating Island of white privilege and we are not encouraging anyone but a Syrian refugee family to move here. Under the heading, “why I am sometimes unpopular” is my deep commitment to the active recruitment of cultural diversity here on the Island. The average for King County is 35.2%. do we get three thousand people of color to want to move on the Island?

Can you imagine?

I’m on a one, possibly two, year writer’s residency in a very populated, culturally diverse area of civilization. The first time I went into the grocery store, without exaggeration, I heard at least two dozen languages just in the produce department.

Slowed to a dead crawl by my ever degenerating hip until surgery this Spring, I ride in one of those little scooters now. I reduced my speed to practically nothing just so I could peruse the aisles of foods from all over the world. It was WONDERFUL!!!

But hey you say...” We’re diverse! We have such an acceptance of gay people. Highest in the country! And look out how the Jewish Havurah shares with the Zen Center.” Admirable yes. But A. both those groups still experience hate crimes here and B. that’s not diversity, that’s equity.  Equitable Vashon is not.

“But it’s such a kind place!” Not really. Get cancer or have a tragedy and maybe yes. But we are fueled by gossip and innuendo and self admiration. People are typecast, tagged they call it. I was once harassed so severely I had to quit my job. The solution had been to put me on night crew which, as a single mom with a nine year old at home alone, was not a solution. I might add the guy who was harassing me was given protected status.

No...we’re white privilege through and through. Look at the website, blog, ‘Things White People Like’ and it’s pretty much us.

Somebody once said to me, “You just want to rub our wealth in our faces!”  

Not true. I want us to be the best we can be. I know some fantastic people here on the Island. They are not here for the privileged status Vashon affords a person. They are here to offer their children the best they can have. But our children need diversity. They need three thousand people of color to move here. They need to hear two dozen languages in the produce department. They need to not think that vegan and gay and Jewish is diversity. We are not preparing our children to be citizens of the world on this Island.

Are people of color going to bring crime? Nope. The white methheads have captured that market just fine here on the Island.

Are they going to make it less easy to relax because they bring other cultural norms? My guess is that they will like the Farmer’s Market, Arts Auction, and cribbage at the Eagles just as much. AND they will add.  They will bring new music to the Bike. New requests to Snapdragon. New selections to IGA and Thriftway.  New styles of dance to the studios.  New fashion on the streets.

It’s too expensive to recruit people to live here? Well maybe we ought to deal with that. Do we say ‘Retired people shouldn’t move here because we have transportation issues to the mainland and they’re always having coronaries and getting cancer”?

You know I sit in meetings where the overcrowding issues on buses that run in less affluent areas than Vashon are constant. How DID we score those nifty buses that run so frequently with so few?  

If you look at what causes we take up, what our culture is, we look like Donald Trump’s extended family. I know in our hearts that is not what we want. Rethink Vashon culture. Prepare our children to be world citizens. Bring the three thousand.

Next time I’ll write a funny one, I promise. But for the beginning of Black History month, I’m going to talk about Vashon giving up being Snow White in an isolated cottage where seven dwarfs adore and serve her.

Love, Deborah