Home » southern california » My Safe Spaces

My Safe Spaces

Day of the Dead Celebration in the San Fernando Valley

Ever since my first visit to Mexico in 1975, I no longer felt myself superior to Mexican-Americans. It didn’t take long before I felt that way about African-Americans and Asian-Americans. My safe space was becoming larger with each year. Now when I encounter prejudiced white people, I don’t even regard myself as being white. In fact, I’ve always felt particularly safe thinking of myself as a Hungarian.

That is a bit of a joke, really, as I am only 25% Hungarian. I am also 25% Slovak, 25% Czech, and 25% Bavarian German. The only difference is that Hungarian was my first language, and I can still think in Hungarian.

At the Los Angeles Times Book Festival this past weekend, I enjoyed the work of three black poets (Roger Reeves, Courtney Faye Taylor, and D. Manuel II) and one Hispanic poet (Brenda Cárdenas). Oh, and don’t forget Eloise Klein Healy, a white poet from El Paso, Texas, whose courage impressed me so much (see yesterday’s post).

I was presented with multiple templates of Los Angeles, all of which I accepted—if not exactly as my own, still as plausible worlds understandable to me. Probably the scariest Los Angeles was that of Eloise Klein Healy, because she fought successfully against the horrors of encephalitis and aphasia and recovered her verbal skills as a poet.

My reaction to the paranoia of white supremacists like Tucker Carlson is to regard them as broken people who are unable to join in the incredible richness of other ethnicities.