The first six years I was in the Coast Guard, I was a crypto tech, repairing and maintaining cryptographic equipment. I also worked on all sorts of communications equipment — radios and antenna tuners, etc. — and sometimes whatever else was lying around. I remember an early GPS receiver that was about the size of two stacked pizza boxes. And there was a neat little electromechanical gizmo that was fun to try to figure out. Its manual had been printed in 1942.
With all this gear to work on, there were usually two of us assigned. One of my partners was Bob, a smart, slightly crazy man who was a pleasure to work with. Bob became friends with Jeff, who I think was a quartermaster. Jeff was educated, well-spoken, gentle, smart, funny, and African-American. One time Bob told me that he thought probably there were times Jeff found it a pain in the ass to be black.
There are people who see anyone not like them, not of their tribe or their clan, to be Other, less than. Perhaps they see the Other as dangerous, needing to be avoided, shunned, penned in. Perhaps seen even as prey. I was usually able to hide my other-ness, sometimes even from myself. I didn’t wear it on the outside for all to see. If you wear black or brown skin, there are those who dismiss you regardless of your abilities or your humanity — even if you are a Harvard professor, a minister of a large church, perhaps even President of the United States. Yes, sometimes it can be a pain in the ass to be black.
Tuesday was voting day in several states. The Georgia primary election was a debacle, with long lines and voters turned away. Guess what the demographics were in areas with the worst problems.
The Iowa primary election went much more smoothly. Absentee ballot request forms had been mailed to all active voters, resulting in a record turnout for a primary. Now Republicans in the state legislature are trying to prevent that happening again. No wonder people are in the streets.
Brazil, the country with the number of covid cases second only to the U.S. is trying to catch up to us, but we still have a huge lead. There is growing unrest there, and now there are reports that the head of state wants a military takeover so he can hold onto his power. There have been some fears of a military takeover in this country, too. From what I know of our military leadership, I think that would be very unlikely. Very unlikely but not beyond possibility. I see that the National Guard is investigating its role in suppressing the unrest in DC. There is a lot of rethinking going on — a hopeful sign.
Covid cases are spiking in some locations. Another 1.5 million applied for unemployment benefits last week — not as bad as previous weeks, but the devastation continues.
Oregon is cautiously opening up. The neighborhood bar/restaurant is open. We saw the lights on when we went by, but there were no cars in its lot. We spent the afternoon with Andrea’s brother. We went to a farm store and bought fresh strawberries. People were being good about wearing masks and distancing themselves. Not everyone, but most were.
A neighbor’s dog died. The brother of a friend died unexpectedly. We are in the middle of at least two crises, but the normal cycle of life continues.
Stay safe. Stay strong. Press forward.