There is no happy, mixed walking crowd in city-centres like Dallas and Houston. There are buildings and cars. The sidewalks, parks and squares are the domain of homeless, mentally disturbed and poor people, mostly black, and a real army of uniformed men and woman: police, private-security, city-guards etc.. You almost never see any child below eighteen years old. I made a long walk this morning and was approached by numerous people asking for some change. I put a handful in my pocket and spoke with quite a few of them. Impressed by their stories and overwhelmed by an almost certain lack of perspective. To get work, be with their family, get out of prison recover from the life they led until today.
It is very hard for the better-situated people here not to close their eyes for this group and consider them as something else then their fellow human beings. And I understand the homeless people raising their fist and screaming when “guys in suit” walk from their car to a building. And it is hard to keep in mind that the people who execute an inhuman prison-system and kill people are people like you and me. And for them it is almost impossible to look at incarcerated people as creatures with talents, love and dreams.
It is 38 Celsius, I am sitting in this air-conditioned Corner Bakery Café and watching the street view of Main street, Houston. And I feel sad and tired.
But then here was this old lady activist; I met her a few times. Forgot her name and her exact age, but she is far over eighty years old. She is a real “dame”, well-educated and civilized and always respectful. There is a historic story about her When she once was demonstrating outside the building where a man was executed she put sat down on a low, stone wall to take a few minutes of rest. A uniformed guy approached her and said: ”you are not supposed to sit there”. The lady looked up and said:” You are killing a man inside and all you worry about is an old lady, sitting on a stone wall.” And then she screamed: “fuck you!” , and again, a lot louder: ”Fuck you!”.
Her friends couldn’t remember ever heard her raise her voice. But they cherish this statement as meaningful and important. And the guy who had spoken to lady walked away and never bothered her again.