Category Archives: Politics

The Day The KKK Came To Westport

The deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor brought the issue of killings of unarmed Black people into our national consciousness.

It’s been happening for years though — and not just in “other” places.

In 1981, a Meriden, Connecticut policeman shot and killed a Black man suspected of shoplifting. Several dozen Ku Klux Klan members demonstrated at City Hall in support of the officer. A far larger crowd protested the KKK.

But the men in robes — representing a faction called the Invisible Empire of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan — did not remain only in central Connecticut.

A year later, Chandra Niles Folsom was enjoying lunch at Soup’s On in Westport. The Staples High School graduate — a photojournalist who has been published internationally — looked up and saw several men with pointed hoods parading past on Main Street.

Oh my God! she thought. The KKK has come to Westport.

She grabbed her camera, and watched the group turn the corner to Parker Harding Plaza. She headed there the other way, to make sure she faced them as they marched by.

Outside Town Squire restaurant, they came toward her. They wore their intimidating white robes and hoods. But their faces were unmasked.

The KKK in 1982, at Parker Harding Plaza. (Photo copyright/Chandra Niles Folsom)

Chandra asked what they were doing. They strode silently past.

She was sure this was a big deal: The KKK was in town. No other journalists were there.

But, Chandra says, no newspapers or magazines wanted her photos.

In fact, one editor — someone she frequently wrote “society pages” for — said that if she published such a “controversial subject,” she’d be fired.

Chandra Niles Folsom

It took 20 years for Chandra’s photos to see the light of day. They eventually became part of a story she wrote called “Civil Rights and Wrongs,” with a Westport focus.

Her editor had to fight for its inclusion; the publisher said “nobody wants to see this at their cocktail parties.” The story ran — but Chandra says that’s the last time she was asked to write for them.

Chandra was happy to see the turnout for Westport’s recent Black Lives Matter protests.

“Everyone is talking now,” she says.

Unlike nearly 30 years ago, when the KKK marched in Westport.

And no one wanted to notice.

(For more history of the Ku Klux Klan in Connecticut, click here.)

Chandra Niles Folsom, at a Westport Black Lives Matter rally.

Westport, Weston Clergy: “Let Us Not Sleep Through This Revolution

On this Independence Day, the Westport/Weston Clergy Association says:

In recent weeks many of us have come to a greater understanding of the constant, oppressive, life-threatening, structural racism endured by those among us who are black and brown.

Many of our ancestors endured a history of injustice and murder. Our black and brown siblings continue to face injustice and murder on a daily basis. Many of us thought we knew and understood. We have come to realize that we have so much more to understand, particularly those among us who have benefited from a system that favors whiteness.

In 1964 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited Westport at the invitation of Rabbi Byron T. Rubenstein. In his address at Temple Israel he said, “One of the great liabilities of life is that all too many people find themselves living amid a great period of social change, and yet they fail to develop the new attitudes… that the new situation demands. They end up sleeping through a revolution.”

Let us not sleep through this revolution.

This 1964 bnewspaper clipping shows Rev. Martin Luther King at Temple Israel. He’s flanked by Rabbi Byron T. Rubenstein (left) and congregation president Dan Rodgers.

Let us learn to oppose racism and bigotry with all our hearts, all our souls, all our might.

Let us become anti-racists, actively dismantling structures of inequality and injustice.

Let us one day look our children in the eye and tell them honestly that we did our part to create a world more righteous than the one we inherited.

Let each of our congregations commit to action, so that black people will no longer be, in the words of Rev. Dr. Bernard Wilson of Norfield Congregational Church in Weston, “treated as second-class citizens in the nation of our birth.”

It is not up to us to complete the work of repairing the world. But neither can we absent ourselves from it.

0*6*Art*Art*0 — Week 16 Gallery

A few 4th of July-themed works are featured in this week’s art gallery.

“06880” is finishing our 4th month featuring readers’ creations. As the world changes, your submissions are as important as ever.

Keep ’em coming. Professional, amateur, old, young — we want it all. Student works are particularly welcome!

The only rule: Your art must be inspired by, reflective of, or otherwise related to the times we’re going through. Email dwoog@optonline.net.

“Happy 4th of July!” (Amy Schneider)

“Welcome Back” (Lawrence Weisman)

Seth Schachter created this collage from discarded items he spotted, in and around downtown. “It’s sad to see litter like this (or any litter for that matter),” he says.”But of course it’s reflective of the times we live in.”

“Out for a Drive in the New Norm!” Bob Weingarten says, “While cleaning drawers, I found cars and figures that our grandkids used.” One result is this photograph.

“First Recital” (oil on canvas). Artist Cindy Wagner says, “I just watched my granddaughter perform a virtual dance recital. It’s still beautiful and made me smile, but I thought about how different it was from her past recitals.”

“The Golden Rule” (Mark Yurkiw)

Untitled. Larry Untermeyer shot this tight closeup of the pistils from within a single bloom of a wild tiger lily that grows on his patio.

Image

… We Mutually Pledge To Each Other Our Lives, Our Fortunes And Our Sacred Honor …

Roundup: Le Penguin; Bears; Racial Inequality; Mullett; More


This sad announcement was posted to social media yesterday:

“It is with enormous sadness that we must announce the closing of Le Penguin in Westport.

“We hope you have enjoyed our food, our staff, our style and our sense of humor. We, Anshu & Antoine, are very proud of what we created. We are very proud of the relationships we have made, of the numerous smiles of gratitude we received from satisfied customers. We thank you for sharing your lives with us. In the meantime, come see us at Le Penguin in Greenwich and Le Fat Poodle in Old Greenwich.” (Hat tip: Johanna Rossi)


There were several bear sightings yesterday, in the northern part of Westport. A bear cub and large young male bear were observed, acting normally.

According to the Westport Police Deparment, black bears are increasingly common in Connecticut. They note: “Bears have an incredible sense of smell.  To prevent luring them towards your property, secure your garbage in sturdy covered containers in a garage or outbuilding.

“Residents who compost should do so responsibly. Do not throw meat scraps or greasy, oily or sweet materials in your compost pile. Clean greasy grills after each use, refrain from leaving pet food outdoors, and remove bird feeders from your property for the summer. Keep your eye on pets and small children playing outside.

“Use caution and do not approach the bear. The mere presence of a bear does not necessitate its removal. If left alone and given an avenue for escape, the bear will usually wander back into more secluded areas. For more information on bears, click here.

In 2013, Cablevision News 12 aired this shot of a black bear in Westport.


If you’re like me, you would love a Long Island Sound sunset cruise. But you don’t own a boat.

No problem!

A generous Wakeman Town Farm supporter is offering a private excursion, as a fundraiser in these tough non-profit times.

The winner will enjoy “libations and lobster rolls” on a “luxe 43-foot Intrepid.”

Silent bidding is today only; it ends at midnight. The minimum bid is $350. Click here (or email wakemantownfarm@gmail.com). Include your name — and good luck!


JoyRide is a full-service spin studio.

Today (Tuesday, June 30, 5 p.m.), they host the first installment of their speaker series on racial inequality. It’s called “Teachers Raise Your Hands.”

Guests are Alli Frank and Asha Youmans, authors of Tiny Imperfections. The Black woman from Seattle and white woman from rural Washington use their stories from in and out of the classroom to encourage us all to actively seek out difference, and find our inner teacher.

Click here to register — and to ask questions of the authors.

Asha Youmans and Alli Frank.


Hey, Mullett fans!

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Westport Library are teaming up for the next Supper & Soul event (Saturday, July 11, 8 p.m.).

It’s a livestream concert with ’80s tribute band Mullet. They specialize in classic Van Halen, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Journey and Poison songs — and look the part.

“What a perfect opportunity to have some friends over for an 80’s hair metal party,” says Chamber director Matthew Mandell.

“This socially distant version of the popular Supper & Soul event supports local restaurants while giving everyone an entertaining evening.”

“Attendees” are encouraged to order takeout from local restaurants, and eat home for the show.

To find out more and to order tickets (just $10.80!) for Stay Home & Soul, click here.

Mullett


The deadline to renew railroad station parking permits is exxtended to July 15. Renewals can be done 4 ways: click here, by mail (50 Jesup Road, Westport, CT 06880) or at the box outside Police Department headquarters.

People on the wait list are required to update their information annually. Use the link above.

For more information, click here. Questions? Call 203-341-6052.

Railroad station parking has not looked like this for a while.


And finally … The groundbreaking 1937 song “Strange Fruit” compares the victims of lynchings to the fruit of trees. It’s been recorded by artists ranging from Nina Simone and UB40 to Sioxsie and the Banshees, but Billie Holiday’s is perhaps the most famous.

Though her label, Columbia, refused to record it — fearful of the reaction of Southern record store owners and its own radio network, CBS — they allowed her to release it on the Commodore jazz label. It sold a million copies — more than any other Billie Holiday song.

However, the song helped cause her demise. It enraged the director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who used his men to frame her. Click here for details about the song, and what it meant to her and her career.

Friday Flashback #198

Had it not been for COVID-19, tomorrow would have been jUNe Day here. Dozens of United Nations guests would have enjoyed a day in Westport — including an impressive display of flags from their native countries on the Post Road bridge.

jUNe Day 2015, on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. (Photo/Jeff Simon)

That’s the same bridge where, earlier this month, hundreds of people massed in support of Black Lives Matter, and to protest the death of George Floyd. 

The 2 events are related. The Post Road bridge — with both its flags, and its role as the cherished spot for political demonstrations — is named in honor of Ruth Steinkraus Cohen. A remarkable Westporter (and former secretary to Eleanor Roosevelt), she dedicated her life to social justice, world peace — and music. 

The scene on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge, several years ago.

With jUNe Day canceled, and political protests fresh in our minds, it’s time to learn a bit more about Ruth Steinkraus Cohen. Staples High School Class of 1981 graduate Laurie Cameron writes:

Back in the day I met a true Westport treasure: my piano teacher, Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen. She would have been 100 on June 8. She was also the grandmother of my friend and classmate Adam Weisman.

Ruth was a generous, warm person who made music and kindness. Learning piano from her was a great education; she made sure I knew Hadyn, Chopin, Brahms and Vivaldi in addition to Mozart, Beethoven and Bach. I learned about Vienna and the Music festival from her.

My brother Byl was the musician in our family. I had no gift for music, but I returned each week for almost 9 years. I was so fascinated by her travels, her art, her bookcase, her antique harpsichord, and hearing about the many jobs she had when she was not being a piano teacher.

My favorite time of the week was the hour that I waited for my brother Andy to finish his piano lesson, when I could stare at the paintings, books and sculptures in Mrs. Cohen’s living room.

Her colorful holiday parties were also our piano recitals. After each student performed, Ruth and her husband Herbert played a duet: she on the piano, he on violin. Their music was rich and melodious, but the joy on their faces was the true lesson for us.

Sometimes when Ruth could see me growing restless at the piano, she took me for a walk in her garden. It had a brick path that looked like the yellow brick road through the woods behind her house. It was so thrilling to me that I sometimes snuck out while waiting for Andy’s lesson to end, and ran down its wooden steps.

Ruth Steinkraus Cohen (center) joins famed singer Marian Anderson (2nd from left) at a concert by young Suzanne Sherman, at Bedford Elementary School.

During her time running the UN Hospitality Committee, Ruth placed over 50,000 people into American homes for cultural exchanges. My family learned about habits and traditions of people from other cultures from those we hosted, thanks to Ruth. She was a great humanitarian with a desire to bring the world together, and bridge gaps between cultures.

When I came back to Westport after being away for over 15 years, visiting Ruth was an important stop for me. Even in her late 70s she was warm, joyful and busy making the world better for those who needed it.

I feel privileged to have known Ruth and to have learned so much from her. Her knowledge, openness, love of music, energy and patience were great sources of inspiration to me. She would be so proud to know that a bridge bearing her name is used to support people fighting for peace, civil rights and equal justice.

(To learn more about Ruth Steinkraus Cohen, click here for her New York Times obituary.)

jUNe Day Is Busting Out All Over (Online)

This weekend, flags from dozens of nations will fly on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.

It’s Westport’s traditional welcome to hundreds of United Nations diplomats, staff and their families.

(Photo/Jeff Simon)

But that’s the only part of this year’s celebration that will be traditional.

For 55 years, the last Saturday in June has been the date for Westport to host the world. Guests arrive at the train station. After breakfast at Saugatuck Elementary School and a couple of (thankfully) brief speeches, they fan out around town with hosts.

They shop, swim, play golf and soccer, tour Earthplace, eat — you know, just a typical day here.

The pandemic — literally, a “worldwide epidemic” — made the 56th annual jUNe Day an in-person unreality.

But the UN is all about problem-solving. So is the UN Association of Southwest Connecticut.

So tomorrow (Saturday, June 27, 7 to 8 p.m.), jUNe Day goes virtual.

The Zoom affair includes greetings from the Secretary General, Senators Murphy and Blumenthal, Congressman Himes and 1st Selectman Marpe.

Then the fun begins. There’s an interactive quiz, with international, UN and Connecticut questions

Famed actor/Weston resident Jim Naughton — a longtime UN advocate — researched, wrote and delivers a compelling case for international engagement.

Westport’s Sylvia Corrigan and 2020 Weston High graduate Morno Burns-Min sing “We Are the World.”

Broadway and opera star Kelli O’Hara of Westport riffs, and ’20 Staples grad Charlie Fitzpatrick describes how his UN Association senior internship prepared him for life.

There’s something for everyone. And the UNASWCT hosts — who worked as hard on the Zoom meeting as they did organizing the previous 55 events — hope the entire town takes part.

Click here to join the fun. And click on the video below, to see just what jUNe Day means to some of the many longtime volunteers.

Remembering Greg Katz

Gregory Katz — a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, noted raconteur, lover of music and baseball and cigars, and longtime (though sometimes part-time) Westporter — died yesterday in London.

He was 67 years old. He had been ill with cancer for several months, and contracted COVID-19.

Greg Katz, in the Staples High School 1971 yearbook.

He made his first headlines not as a writer, but as an athlete. In 1970 Katz — a Staples High School junior, an excellent catcher and the proud possessor of a head of shoulder length, curly hair — petitioned the Staples Governing Board to remove dress code restrictions on athletes. He called them “arbitrary standards of appearance,” which exacerbated social divisions at the school.

After an intense debate, the measure passed 11-6. Katz was free to try out for the team coached by  Brian Kelley, an ex-Marine who still looked the part.

After the University of Vermont, traveling throughout Latin America and writing for the Provincetown Advocate, Katz was in New York City in December 1980.

John Lennon was shot inside the Dakota. Katz’s parents — who owned a home across from what is now Joey’s By the Shore (Elvira’s), where Katz grew up — also had an apartment there.

Katz was the only journalist who could enter the building. He interviewed, among others, the doorman who was witnessed the murder. His story ran in Rolling Stone magazine — the famous edition with Annie Liebovitz’s photo of a naked Lennon and Yoko Ono on the cover.

After writing for USA Today and serving as Latin America bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News (and earning a share of the 1994 Pulitzer for international reporting, with a 14-part series on violence against women around the world) as well as Europe and Middle East bureau chief for the Houston Chronicle, he joined the Associated Press in London. In 2013 he was named acting bureau chief. He also appeared frequently on the BBC’s “Dateline London.”

He wrote about popes, politics, refugees and Queen Elizabeth. But he returned to Westport every summer, spending many weeks in a house he and his wife Bea Sennewald owned on Saugatuck Shores, with their daughter Sophia.

Katz loved those summers. He learned to sail at Longshore, and owned a kayak that he often paddled to Cockenoe.

Greg Katz (Photo/Bill Armstrong)

He went to as many baseball games as he could, too. (Of course, he loved covering the Yankees-Red Sox game in London last year.)

He and Bea hosted friends from everywhere, including some of the most noted journalists on the planet. He spent many happy hours on his deck, watching the water and nature.

Neighbor Bill Armstrong said, “His one great fear was that he’d be enjoying his Westport summer — but would get the dreaded call that Her Majesty The Queen had passed away. Greg would then have to rush back to London and spend weeks covering the state funeral and the coronation of Charles.”

Several times a summer, I joined him for breakfast at the Sherwood Diner. He asked about Westport; in turn, he’d chat about his work, covering the latest crisis in the Mideast or Parliament. He was not dropping names; he was describing his life, and what he loved (and hated) about it.

Greg Katz (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

The AP’s story on his death quotes Anne-Marie O’Connor, a London-based journalist and author, who covered Haiti and Cuba with Katz in the 1990s. She said, “in addition to being a wonderfully curious reporter, Greg could be riotously funny, and his sense of humor elevated the esprit de corps of his colleagues on the road.”

Ian Phillips, AP’s international news director, described him as a “suave, waistcoat-wearing, straw boater-wearing, gravelly-voice gent … an American abroad but my God how he assimilated! … He managed to capture so much about British society in his writing — the nuance, the singularity, the humor, the tradition.”

He was “a bon vivant” with an encyclopedic knowledge of jazz and baseball, added Richard Boudreaux, of the Wall Street Journal. “He could recite the starting lineup of just about any Yankees team going back to the late 1950s, when he was only a kid.”

Greg never lost that “kid” spirit. He had it on the Staples baseball team, and at Woodstock. He had it wherever he wrote, around the globe.

And of course right here by the water, in his home town of Westport.

(For the AP obituary of Greg Katz, click here. For an “06880” story on Greg Katz’s coverage of Brexit, click here.)

Greg Katz

Mia Gentile Asks: “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?”

Take Creedence Clearwater Revival’s haunting “Have You Ever Seen the Rain.” Add a ’60’s girl group vibe, with Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound. Mix in Mia Gentile, the multi-talented 2007 Staples High School graduate.

What do you get?

A song that — in the days following the killing of George Floyd — manages to be both poignant and uplifting.

Mia Gentile, pitching Stanley Steemer.

That’s the genius of Mia — a former Staples Players superstar who went on to Broadway in “Kinky Boots” — and musician/video producer Roger Klug.

In 2012 they collaborated on a “Stanley Steemer” mashup video, with Mia performing that ubiquitous jingle in every genre from jazz, opera, country and Latin to torch song, punk rock, gospel and Lady Gaga. It wracked up 2 million views, and landed Mia an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America.

Mia and Roger are back together, this time in a project called MISSYFIT.

After their first single, they recorded a few covers. One was CCR’s tune, which they decuded to take back in time.

Mia and Roger worked long distance, via FaceTime. She was on the computer in her Manhattan bedroom, listening on headphone to the backing track he’d created. He was in his Cincinnati studio, hearing Mia’s a cappella voice. During post-production he cut out the sounds of sirens (and an ice cream truck) that leaked through her window.

For reasons he can’t explain, Roger felt the need to work on “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” before other projects that were further along.

Mia Gentile, today.

Then the unarmed Black man was killed in Minneapolis. News of protests and an explosion of awareness of systemic racism in America felt like an echo of the past.

Roger and his family joined demonstrations in Cincinnati. As he described those events to Mia, they realized they had to release the song. They started to envision how a video could underline the lyrics, speaking to the civil rights movement of the 1960s as well as the resurgent demand for racial equality today.

The 2nd recording session — which included a toy xylophone — took place a few days later. Then Roger went to work mixing the vocals and producing the video. Its images of protests from the ’60s — and now the ’20 — are raw, and thought-provoking.

In retrospect, MISSYFIT’s decision to use a girl group/Phil Spector sound seems compelling. There’s a poignant juxtaposition of a bright, peppy, more innocent time, and the dark lyrics.

“Hearing about war, violence and systemic racism from the mouth of babes (so to speak) is powerful,” Mia says. “Youth continue to be at the forefront of progressive American culture.” (Click the link below to listen.)

The single has been released on MISSYFIT’s YouTube page. Reaction has been very positive.

“This song that came to us on a whim now shines a light on how music and art can hold a mirror up to society,” Mia notes.

“People have had enough. It’s time for action.”

Zoe Brown: An Eloquent 20s Voice, For 2020

At Staples Zoe Brown served as editor-in-chief of the school paper Inklings and co-president of the Teen Awareness Group, and played field hockey.

She graduated last month from the University of Southern California where she studied communication and cinematic arts, founded the Girls Who Read book club, and was a Hillel leader.

Zoe started her blog, Coast Confused, in 2015 just before graduating from Staples and switching coasts. 

She is moving back to Los Angeles this week, to search for a job in entertainment. Her goal is to become a literary manager and producer, or a showrunner and creator like Dan Fogelman.

Zoe Brown: proud graduate, in her home town.

The other day Zoe woke up with many confused feelings. She watched videos of her favorite writer, Marina Keegan, doing spoken word poetry, then put down her own thoughts. The resulting blog story is a wonderful piece of writing: powerful, insightful, honest, raw, personal yet universal. I’m honored to re-post it here. 

Lately, I’ve been driving with my windows down, blasting music, mostly songs about feeling lonely, sad or about wishing for love. You know, “Modern Loneliness” or “Sad Forever” by Lauv or “Dive” by Ed Sheeran. I secretly hope that someone will shout out to me, saying they like my music and that we should hang out. I do have friends, but I miss meeting new people and getting to know them, while getting to know myself more at the same time. I miss that moment when handshakes turns into hugs, and names turn into nicknames. I always remember the first time someone calls me “Zo.” Mostly, though, I miss touch and attention.

It’s hard right now, for so many reasons. It’s hard to grieve people killed for reasons that make less than no sense, to grieve normalcy and touch and the job I would have been starting soon, had things gone as planned (they rarely do). It’s hard to grieve in general but even harder without a warm hug or a supportive pat on the back from friends or family.

I thrive off of touch, off the electricity I feel when my hand grasps the hand of the cute boy from school on our first date at the movies, or when I cuddle with my best friend on her couch and she falls asleep so I have to sneak out so she doesn’t wake up. I’m going to see my Grandmom in Philly soon, and I can’t even hug her. I can’t hug my favorite lovely lady on Earth, who lost her husband, my Grandpop, not even a year ago. She probably hasn’t hugged anyone in 4 months. Then again, neither have I, besides when I “hug” my sister and she doesn’t hug me back (she doesn’t always like to be touched) or when I remind my dad “I am moving to LA for good” so he agrees to wrap his arms around his little girl quickly, one more time for now.

Zoe Brown

I started watching “When Harry Met Sally” the other day and in the very start, there’s a make out scene. It’s a closeup of two people making out in a park and it looked so gross to me that I didn’t keep watching the movie that night. Kissing seems gross to me. I have probably kissed a hundred boys at this point, and I don’t think I ever want to kiss one again. Maybe that’s dramatic, but I guess it’s just so clear to me right now, because I’ve had to be so careful about germs, that it is GROSS. Swiveling your tongue around in the inside of a random person’s dirty mouth, ew!

But at the same time, I can’t wait to kiss again. I can’t wait to see that look in his eyes and know that he’s about to place his soft lips on mine, or on my cheek and the creases of my neck. And it doesn’t seem so gross after all.

I don’t even know when that will happen, or with who. I know who I want it to happen with. I want to kiss Him again. I capitalized the H in Him when I wrote this without even thinking about it, as if he is God or something. He is most definitely not God, so maybe I should demote him to the lowercase “him,” to just an Angel instead, or maybe a demi-God, in my mind at least.

I imagine him next to me sometimes, like when I’m alone reading on a chair at the beach or driving to pick up food. I hope that doesn’t sound too sad or weird and I especially hope it doesn’t sound creepy. I just miss him, and I feel like I don’t even deserve to miss him. I don’t know him that well after all and I’m sure he doesn’t miss me. Why do I get to miss him? But then again, I also miss the smell of my best friend’s hair, the taste of buttery movie theater popcorn, and the sound of pen on paper and professors lecturing about whatever it is I used to learn in school.

So why can’t I miss him? Who am I to tell myself who I can and cannot miss? I mean, at least I’m not missing that other him (definitely lowercase), the one who stomped on my heart like he was killing a spider in the shower, with intention and no regrets.

I miss my favorite writer, Marina Keegan. I never even knew her, besides through her writing. She was 22 when she died, right after she graduated from Yale. In one of her spoken word poetry sets, she said “I want to have time to be in love with everything.” I do, too. I want to hug my best friend when I go to her house to congratulate her on getting her first job. I want to high-five my friend’s mom after we run a solid two miles together in the New England heat. I want to look next to me and actually see him, and give his hand a quick squeeze to let him know I’m glad that I’m not only imaging him next to me anymore.

Zoe Brown, browsing at The Last Bookstore iin Santa Monica.

I want to be in love with my country, my home, this beautiful Earth. I definitely am not right now. I am proud of so much of the effort from everyone, to better themselves and fight for justice with racism, police brutality, and everything else that’s so fucked up in America. I am not proud of my President. I am proud of the Supreme Court, for its ruling to protect LGBTQ+ people in the workplace. I am not proud of the police. I am proud of myself, for selling postcards to raise money to support black emotional and mental health. I am not proud of my friends who are not taking this pandemic seriously. I am proud of my friends and those who are taking it seriously and the doctors who are fighting to save people and create a vaccine. I am proud of the people who stand back up over and over again after being shoved down repeatedly, because as long as they keep standing, they keep winning.

I am glad to be alive, but I am also sad and uncomfortable. It feels like I was living on a rug on top of a bunch of spikes and someone ripped the rug right out from beneath me. Now I live standing on the spikes, so I have to be careful of my every step but no matter how I stand, it always kind of hurts.

I know that the rug will be replaced one day, and I am hopeful that it will be a better rug, too, one made with more care, respect and understanding than the last.

I hope that this world becomes better because of everything it’s going through. I know I’ve become better because of my struggles. Even though I am hurting now, I am hopeful that the world we live in will come out of this a stronger, brighter, and better one.

(To read more of Zoe Brown’s blog, click here.)

Zoe Brown, hiking in the Los Angeles hills.