For this week’s blog, I have the privilege to share four more impactful stories. Working with CA Humanities has helped our community share and learn from these valuable stories. “Dear America: Telling the World We Lived,” preserves the powerful voices of older people. Not only has the pandemic taken some much away from us, it has also helped us grow stronger. I hope that everyone has enjoyed these stories as much as I have. This week, I am honored to share with you the stories and poems by David Oliveira, Mary Kay Rummel, Russell Stockard, and Jeanne Munesato.
David Oliveira shares his story about moving to Cambodia and the death of his partner, Vic. In Cambodia he was able to build a home and start a family of his own with the person he loves. The emotions in his video are so raw and heartbreaking but they show how David is able to cope with these feelings of grief through poetry. David shares a poem about ghosts. His perspective of ghosts is so unique, in many cultures ghosts are considered to be negative spirits but he believes that ghosts are memories that you carry. At the end of the poem, the ghost of Vic reaches out and tells him that everything is alright. The poem itself was so beautiful and even left me with a warm comforting feeling.
Mary Kay Rummel went into the convent right after high school and shares the conflict she had with her superior. Mary was not allowed to read fictional books which caused her to leave the convent and make her own decisions. She reads a poem from her book, What’s Left Is the Singing. Her poem, “Patterns of Obedience,” is about rejecting obedience and not falling in line. Listening to Mary’s poem was inspirational. It is difficult to stand up for what you love, especially if you are expected to conform. Mary was not willing to sacrifice her love for reading to become obedient. Many young adults feel completely lost after high school and aren’t sure what to do. This poem encourages you to follow your dreams and to do what you love to do.
Russell Stockard’s poem educated me on disasters and how they play a role in social inequality. After any disaster, everyone is under severe stress but we never really discuss the aftermath of a disaster. There are people who have nowhere to turn and others who have the proper resources to get back on their feet. Russell shares how his father refused to evacuate when hurricane Katrina hit. Unfortunately, this isn’t uncommon, many people will sacrifice their own life to try and protect their belongings. It is easier to evacuate for people who can easily replace their home and possessions. However, for the people who cannot afford to replace everything that they have, it is a struggle for them to let go of their life’s work.
Jeanne Munesato talks about her early experience with discrimination as a Japanese American. The teachers she grew up with were unsupportive and did nothing to stop the discrimination. Jeanne grew up in a home where they only spoke English so they could “fit in.” Even in her work setting, she would often hear racist comments being made. Racism against the Asian community has not stopped, especially since the pandemic. Speaking up, when you know that something is wrong or unfair, can make a difference in the community. Nowadays, we can find support systems in our schools and work settings but that doesn’t mean that racism does not exist. Everyone still has an obligation to speak up against discrimination.