After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.
Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?
The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.
She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,
Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.
She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.
Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.
Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.
She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.
And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.
And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,
With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.
Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.
They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.
Not everything is lost.
This is so vague I love it. The voices you are hearing are real, god is speaking to you. The nation of France needs you. Don your armor, take up arms, lead the French army. This is your destiny, joan. When the flames come for you let them lick your bones and laugh.
There have been two “walkouts” from the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Geneva….The first walkout, led by the United States, was of those countries boycotting the entire conference. These included the U.S., Canada, Israel, New Zealand and Australia—the major settler states that through genocide displaced Indigenous populations from their territory. The Netherlands, the plunderer of Indonesia, and Germany and Italy, which waged murderous wars against barely armed African populations, joined them, as did Poland, now itself a semi-colony.
A few of the largest historical despoilers and plunderers of the colonized world held back from this first walkout. France and Britain, for example, which had divided up most of Africa, the Middle East and large parts of South and East Asia, opted to participate in the conference. This gave them the opportunity to disrupt from inside—which they did a few days into the meetings.
On April 21, when President Ahmadinejad of Iran spoke denouncing the racist actions of the Israeli state against Palestinians, most of the U.N. delegates applauded the speech….However, Britain, France and the rest of the European Union countries present walked out, accusing Ahmadinejad of “racism”.
Their actions spoke louder than any words of phony concern…There has to be a vigorous struggle against racism precisely because the imperialist powers and their settler states—which for historical reasons are mostly white—have promoted racism against peoples of color and all Indigenous peoples throughout the world in order to better exploit them. The ones who wound up walking out of the conference on racism are exactly those most guilty of racism. And everyone who remained knows it.