A little over a week ago my girlfriend Lisa and I took a walk along the beach at Lincoln Park in West Seattle. It was near sunset, the tide was high, and a ferry took its time getting to Vashon Island. A Latino family was celebrating someone’s birthday at one of the picnic stations, and the music of the mariachi band followed us as the sun dipped below the serrated ridge of the Olympic Penninsula. We reached Coleman Pool to discover a bear party–dozens of beefy gay men frolicking in the saltwater pool, a drag queen strutting in heels around the perimeter. It was the kind of night that makes me fall in love with Seattle all over again.
On our way back, the mariachi band was still cooking, and a boy no older than two was fully enrapt with the music. The little toe-headed guy was doing that ridiculously cute, hydraulic toddler dance, with lots of knee pumping and an occasional booty shake. His mom looked on with a delighted grin on her face, and the boy would occasionally look up at her with a smile of his own. Two middle-aged Latinas were losing their minds over the cuteness, squealing, clapping, taking the boy’s hands to dance together. The whole tableau stopped me in my tracks and moved me to near tears. Here was something pure and beautiful and happy, an affirmation of our common hearts.
Later that night, when Lisa and I were out to dinner, I engaged in that increasingly risky behavior of checking the news on my phone. My face fell. Lisa asked what was wrong. “Trump just pardoned Arpaio.”
I’ve been stewing on the juxtapositions of that night. The boundless joy of a boy moved to dance to songs sung in Spanish, the vulgarity of authoritarian bigots covering each other’s asses. This past weekend, I visited my parents in Skagit Valley, where it’s not uncommon for a grade school to be majority Hispanic. As we woke to the horrible news that Trump was about to torpedo DACA, the Dream Act, my mother started connecting the news to people we know. We ran down a list of family friends who are Latino to figure out if any of them were in jeopardy of being deported. Elizabeth’s husband would be okay; he was a citizen by marriage. What about Amy’s friend Francisco, currently getting a Phd at Harvard? He’s a Dreamer, he’s in danger. Oh, and that Korean family whose father is battling cancer? They’re Dreamers, too.
I’m angry and deeply sad, and while this blog is ostensibly devoted to thoughts on virtual reality and artificial intelligence, I can’t hold my tongue on this political matter. These racist policies are cold-hearted, economically self-defeating, and un-American. But I’m hopeful. These pathetic old men with their racial inferiority complexes will die soon, replaced by people who won’t remember an America before a black president. The sun is setting on the small-minded, petty hatreds of these inept trolls that the Russians put in charge of our country. The self-defeating inertia of bigotry is no match for the joy of children dancing.