August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Snowbound in HELL

Just when you think everything is going to be OK, you find you're in Crawford, Texas

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
Photo: Out the train window near Crawford,
Texas/Photo Brenda Norrell

TEXAS -- In the Fort Worth train station, we are like children waiting for Christmas, like children who only get presents at that one special time of year. All we want is for the Amtrak train to finally get here and take us out of this cold waiting room, this icebox inside the bigger freezer outside where huge flakes of snow are bonding with jagged chunks of ice.

Surrounded by the down-and-out of downtown Fort Worth, a woman on my right moans with pain at the cold and the pin in her wrist wrapped in gauze. President Obama is now on the television above us, saying we shouldn’t begrudge the executives who got multi-million dollar bonuses in bailout dollars.

I look around me at the pitiful mass of human beings. Most have lost their jobs or lost their homes, some have lost their hope. Everyone has lost something. Outside frail and desperate people are pushing shopping carts with rags through the snow. Sadder looking still are the young men in camouflage, all going somewhere, some home after a tour of duty, others on their way to war. They look so young, like fifteen year olds, all so very sad, all with downcast eyes, worried and troubled eyes.

Obama’s words about bonuses for the rich are salt on the wounds here and the wounds are fresh. Mothers with babies cringe at his words, as homeless people shuffle past the menacing security guards, trying to avoid being chased into the freezer outside.

Here, surrounded by people who live out of shopping carts, surrounded by people wrapped in blankets, Obama’s words glorifying bailout dollars for the rich are daggers to the hearts. It is an error, not just an error for the future of a politician, but an error coming from a human being in a time of so much loss.

It is cold, a rare snowstorm has blanketed Texas, and people are hungry.

Finally, we are onboard the Amtrak train and headed south. A blind man sits across from me. A couple goes to get him a cheeseburger and I think, yes, America is changing for the better. The grief and loss has yielded a gentler humanity, a more caring society.

But just as I ponder this, the Amtrak announcer tells us that we will soon be passing through Crawford, Texas, and the very cafĂ© where George W. Bush and his wife liked to have their morning coffee. Ugh. What? How could this happen? I don't want to remember George W. Bush and the sorrow, grief and trail of torture and death he left around the world. I don’t want to remember this man who left a dark stain of greed across the land, a stain in the earth of blood and death.

What I do want to know is where Cindy Sheehan held her protests here in Crawford, Texas. I want to think of her standing out there, standing out there somewhere, telling the world that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are wrong. I want to visualize her out there, taking a stand for her son.

But the Amtrak man doesn’t mention Cindy Sheehan.

A young man down on his luck without a dime from South Carolina says he has never been anywhere. He had never been out of South Carolina or the factory town where he worked. “You’ll love Texas,” an African American man says, who has lived here all his life.
I wondered. I wondered about this state that had executed so many people, including blacks, before the time when DNA could have proven the innocent were innocent. I wondered about this state, where genocide and massacres annihilated most of the original inhabitants and drove most of the remaining Native Americans to the state’s remote border regions.

I wondered about this state that glorifies a man like George W. Bush.

In the south, people say, “Wipe that grin off your face.” It is a tell-tale sign, you know. Bush’s grin after 9/11; Bush’s grin when he lied about the “weapons of mass destruction.”

In Austin, the Amtrak man tells us that the city has more live music than any other, even Nashville. He tells us about the bats that live under the bridge and, that because of a Supreme Court decision, this state capitol has the Ten Commandments displayed.
Contemplating Texas, I guess they need a little extra something.

But the hills and plains of northern Texas are now giving way to the Southwest, my Southwest, and I am going home to it. The closer we come to San Antonio, there is the raw and wild feel of the Southwest and the border, with all its grief and happiness, misery and celebration, stretching from here to California. I am going home.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Brenda,

Jessica from Berlin again. Poingnat and powerful article. You are a powerful writier. I am glad you are going home. I will be heading there soon too.