I had to go get a haircut. So I did. In the late afternoon.
I walked into Raphael’s, a barber shop owned by an Iranian women who runs the shop like clockwork. There were five folks cutting hair; and about 10 waiting. From the looks of it, the United Nations; people from everywhere.
My turn came up. Ah, it’s Jose! Good. He cut my hair last time so I don’t have to explain how I want it to look. Jose remembered me. We chatted. It did not take long to go to THE issue of the day, immigration. He shared with me that a cousin of his was stuck in Honduras, being extremely vetted. Never mind that his cousin is a native born USA citizen… He may have to miss their aunt’s birthday.
I shared with him that my nephew, a Cuban born immigration lawyer is visiting Mexico with his wife, whose family has deep roots in the American west. (Her family did not cross the border, the border crossed them.) They have old relatives across the Rio Grande. So they took their USA born son to visit relatives. They are sending pictures. From the looks of it, they are having a good time… Hope they have no issues coming back in. They shouldn’t, right? They are all USA citizens. We’ll see. (Why should we even be worried about such absurdity?!?)
Afterwards I went to our unique comic book store, Alliance comics. I wanted to show them the comic books I just found in my attic. These are Archie and Fantastic Four comic books from the late 60’s, mostly in Spanish. The clerk – an African American young man – was really engaging and helpful as we tried to determine whether I want to sell these or keep them for my new grandson. I decided to keep them. I asked if he had some comic books in German, since my grandson’s mother is of German heritage and we want to teach him German as well… He said he did not have any at the time, but would help me get them.
A short walk around the corner – down Bonifant Street – I stopped by to get some local wine from our local wine producer, the Urban Winery, owned by an amazing couple of Greek heritage. On the way there, I ran across the owner of Mandalay, our Burmese restaurant. He tells me he is open on
Sunday… I have to check it out for brunch…
Across the Urban Winery is Silver Spring Books, owned by Mrs. Cynthia, one of our African American matriarchs in the community. Mrs. Cynthia is up in age; she recently fell – but is ok, so tells me the old white guy taking care of the place as she recuperates… (The space is looking for a second tenant to help out with the rent.)
… had to take a walk through Mayor Lane to see how things are going for the Studio Plaza development, a major mix use development – one of five going up in downtown Silver Spring … Lots of commotion and disruption; working on trying to minimize the impacts…
On Silver Spring Avenue I stopped by Roadhouse Oldies, a vinyl record store – one of four in downtown Silver Spring! They have what has to be the best collection of 70’s soul music LPs. I mentioned to Scooter, the owner/operator, that I may bring over some of my own collection, including one autographed by Gladys Knight. (Yes, THE Gladys Knight, before the Pips. She actually grew up in the same little hometown where I spent a few years of my childhood – Hampton, Georgia.)
Last stop for the late afternoon: Lesaac Restaurant, one of twenty one (yes, 21!) Ethiopian eateries/cafes in downtown Silver Spring, to meet a resident activist who relentlessly advocates for these independently locally owned businesses in the area known as Fenton Village. This white lady is a firestorm of an activist. As a white person living in a very mixed community, she has gained the trust of many – and fear of some – to make things happen in the community… We had a couple of drinks as we ‘talked community’… (Though I had to share with my good Ethiopian bartender that a Cuba Libre is more Coke than rum rather than the strong rum and (little bit) of Coke she brought me. We both laughed. By the way, the injera sushi was great!)
Finally got home. My wife called. She is in Kenya doing the good work of the National Institute of Health in the HIV/AIDs world… Of course she is doing a bit of shopping in a market before coming home.
And so it was. My bubble. Love it!
My hope remains that the rest of America – particularly White America – realizes that connecting with the world is a beautiful, wonderful, positive thing… This crazy ‘chest-pumping’, fear-filled, nativism of the “America First” cry is not only divisive, but also culturally and economically a bad idea.
We have so much to learn from these amazing cultures that come to America to – together – build on this imperfect and dysfunctional Union… Of course not everyone that comes over – or those from the African-American or American-Mexican heritages that have been around here for centuries – are model citizens. Some are right down bad criminals. (Not unlike the Whites, right?) Yes, bad hombres… AND – not but – casting all these folks as dangerous to America is simply a bad idea. And – ultimately – un-American.
As for me, I will continue enJoying my bubble… AND #RESIST this loud, boisterous, warped minority who insist on creating an America that is simply not my America.