There is a very white woman in a Lexus.
I could say her license plate number, but does it matter?
She’s that woman you’ve heard about—yelling at a brown woman
holding a sign, “I’ve lost my job. I have two kids. Help.”
The white woman leans out of her Lexus, “Go away! Go away!”
She will not move as other cars pile up behind her and the brown woman
does not “go away.” Where could she go at this point?
She’s surrounded. I watch from my car as I’m about to leave. I
take the yelling white woman’s picture. I get her license plate number.
I get out of my car. I stand by the woman with the sign.
I look at the woman in the Lexus and say to her,
“You need to stop. Really. You have to stop – now.”
She snorts. Her eyes roll at me—you’re crazy.
But I don’t move either. She wants to say something to me. You must be nuts. She is foaming mad.
But she doesn’t say anything to me. I am white — this is how it is.
It is a while, but she drives away. All the piled-up cars drive away.
I give the woman with the sign five dollars.
I note the guy pacing across from her. I hope she is not a trafficked victim. And these kids
are her kids and — they are safe? …Safe with the five dollars I gave them?
I put the white woman’s picture and license plate on Facebook.
I give hope a push, maybe. Hope for free kids and the woman. Hope.
For this is who we are now. Make no mistake. This is who we will become.
Each day we are
the woman in the Lexus yelling or the woman on the curb standing.
I don’t want her to “go away.”
The woman with the sign about “the huddled masses.”
You with your permeable borders, open arms and generous heart
for those who are “yearning to be free.”
I stand with you, America. Don’t listen to the woman with the Lexus.
Keep high your torch, America.
Don’t go, America.
Long Beach, CA
Marie Cartier has a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University. She is the author of the critically acclaimed book Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall (Routledge 2013). She is a senior lecturer in Gender and Women’s Studies and Queer Studies at California State University Northridge, and in Film Studies at Univ. of CA Irvine.