An Airport 2,500 Miles Away

[This first appeared as a Facebook post on February 28, 2019.]

I am sitting in the air-conditioned Miami Airport with muzak playing gently in the background (is there science to the volume at which it is played…just loud enough to hear but soft enough to soothe?). I have had culture shock before, most dramatically when I returned from building latrines deep in the mountains of the Dominican Republic.

This is not that. To believe I have culture shock is to believe that what is happening in Homestead, FL is not my culture. It is separate from me, from the world in which I live. To believe I have culture shock is to pretend I did not learn there is a teen detention center in Pleasant Hill, CA – a town that borders my own. To believe I have culture shock is to forget I have been part of a country that has tolerated the separation of brown and black children from their parents since the inception of our nation. To believe I have culture shock is to allow myself willful ignorance of what our nation is capable, of what it has always been capable. To believe I am in culture shock is to decide that trauma occurring to those with a different heritage is not trauma about which I should care.

I am not in culture shock. I am in shock.

I am shocked by the dissonance between business people charging their phones and children covering their heads with sweatshirts because they are not given hats by the facility in which they are jailed. I am shocked Miami is not converging en mass in front of the center. I am shocked more people are not jumping on planes and traveling down there.

Most of all, I am shocked I left.

More tonight when I blog.

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