Yesterday I was with a passenger and as we were driving by an apartment complex on the side of town where I live and we saw a group of boys playing outside. As I slowed down to get around a parked vehicle, I saw the boys were playing cricket. Not baseball, but cricket. Yes, they were refugee children and my passenger and I told her I loved seeing that and how I love living on the side of San Antonio I do. On my side of town there is a large refugee population along with people from all over the world that live here. I love living around people who don’t look like me, talk like me, or think and believe like I do. And we all get along pretty well around here because we’re all just trying to get through the day.
I hate it when people who don’t live here tell me how awful life in a big city is. It’s not perfect but it’s not a burnt-out, trashed-out, shoot ‘em up mess that right-wing media likes to lie about. I’ve been in some of the wealthiest enclaves in this city, driven by multi-million-dollar homes. And I’ve been in neighborhoods where homes are worth a fraction of that, where the sidewalks are cracked and everything is worn down. But in those worn-down areas I see mothers walking with their kids from school, older people sitting on their front porches waving hello to everyone, and I see hope. And I hate it when people shit all over that.
And two years ago in the summer of 2020 I felt a real change in this city when a group of racist white men came to downtown San Antonio openly carrying guns. I was downtown on the biggest day of protests against these racist white-motherfuckers and yes, I was scared. But then I read the Bexar County Sheriff ran these racist-motherfuckers through the system and found several had outstanding warrants. So he put those assholes up in the Bexar County Hilton (aka the Bexar County Jail) till he could ship them out. Then he told the rest of the racist-pricks to get the fuck out of town. Then the Sheriff, along with the Mayor and other city leaders went outside to the protesters and said, “Let’s take a walk. You talk and we’ll listen.” And I remember the Mayor saying this: “This is your home, your city. Tell us how we can make it better.” And since then, that’s been the commitment of city and county leaders, and yes, it pissed off the Republican Establishment in both Austin and Washington DC till the Orange Menace was voted out in 2020.
I was also telling my passenger yesterday that for the longest time San Antonio tended to skew older in terms of population because young people, like many who live and grow up in small towns, would leave and not always come back. But now this city’s population is skewing younger. Young people aren’t leaving and those that do are coming back to stay. I love this because these young people are awesome. This city is getting more diverse, and these wonderful people are bringing a vibrancy and hope to these streets. They’re battling the old white power structures and machine-politics and getting leadership to focus on what we need: good jobs, education, infrastructure, and bridging the economic gap.
But small towns aren’t bad either. Yes, they can be insular and isolating but technology is changing that along with people moving there and bringing new life and investment to these communities. In the Hill Country towns that are outside of San Antonio, sometimes this can make these towns like glorified tourist traps but it’s not all touristy. A lot of these towns have grown in size and population but are good places to raise kids. And yes, they’re even getting diverse and trying to welcome new people who aren’t all lily-white stereotypes.
In this current midterm election, pollsters and other idiot-pundits are surprised that smaller communities aren’t skewing as conservative as they used to. I think it’s because more people are beginning to see through conservative rage-politics and lies that right-wing media spews out. And I think they realize the conservative ideal of dying in a huge mansion on a huge stack of money is not something to aspire to, or support anymore. The vast majority of people in this world just want to have a roof over their heads that doesn’t leak, food on the table that won’t bankrupt them, and not to have to worry about money too much. And most of all, they don’t want to hurt people or shit all over them. They’re beginning to see that the raging-shit politics of the conservative right-wing Republican Party are not about them at all. And most of all, the Republican Party is NOT the party of ‘family values’ or anything like that at all.
In the end here, I think more people are beginning to value genuine knowledge. I told my passenger yesterday I look for knowledge in a political candidate, genuine knowledge of how government and public policy are supposed to work for everyone and not raging rhetoric and bullshit, but about the details that make things work in our communities. Because the thing that has always pissed me off and what I will not be silent about anymore is this: I’m through with putting up with people who talk shit about things they have no real knowledge of.
So on the streets where I live, things aren’t so bad. And they can only get better if we come together and make it so.