Americans accept all races,
show devotion to duty,
despite political divisions
By Suzanne Dean
Dec. 14, 2017
There’s a lot of evidence out there that Americans are politically divided. But I keep encountering evidence that person-to-person, in social and business relationships, we Americans, all Americans, get along very well. Hurricane Harvey certainly punctuated that conclusion.
To digress a little, I heard a commentator on CNN say that many people in President Trump’s “base” aren’t really worried about immigrants taking their jobs. (All you have to do is look around to figure out that immigrants are primarily taking jobs Americans won’t take.)
The base isn’t really worried about immigrants committing crimes. (All the studies show that illegal immigrants have a lower crime rate than legal immigrants and native-born citizens).
What many of these working-class Caucasians are worried about is the collectivity of African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, Middle Easterners, Native Americans and other ethnicities becoming the majority in America. Yes, the base is worried about becoming a minority in a majority-minority nation.
Based on the way our demography is going, I believe we will become a minority-majority nation. But based on what I saw in the Harvey coverage, what I’ve observed in some of our enlightened young people here in Sanpete County, and my personal experience, the majority-minority phenomenon is the least of my worries.
But back to the hurricane. So many anecdotes emerged from the Harvey coverage that I don’t know where to start.
There was the Houston police officer, Steve Perez, who drowned trying to get to work to help people. Based on his name and appearance, he was from a Hispanic background. The Houston police chief, Art Acevedo, who was born in Cuba, choked back tears as he announced Perez’s death.
There was the lady who went to a gas station in her neighborhood only to found the property crammed with people who had been rescued and were waiting to be taken somewhere else. They didn’t know where.
The lady invited families consisting of 16 people to come on over to her house. One of the families had two dogs, and one of the two dogs had recently had three puppies. (That’s five dogs.)
The 16 people and five dogs spent a couple of nights at this gracious lady’s house. When a CNN reporter asked what motivated her to take in all those strangers and how she was handling the crowd, she shrugged off the implied praise. Everyone was sitting around getting acquainted, she told a reporter. Everyone was getting along great.
Then there was the elderly African-American woman who got caught in her house with water up to her chest. She called 911, but no one came. Then a man across the street who she didn’t know, who only spoke Spanish, rescued her. He helped her travel five blocks through water waist-high or higher pushing a walker.
After the water receded, the elderly lady and her rescuer were reunited at her house. She gave him a tearful hug. With a bilingual, Latino CNN reporter translating, the rescuer said in Spanish that in times like these, “We’re all family.”
In my personal and business life, I keep seeing this same caring, acceptance of everybody and commitment to duty.
As a small business owner, at various times I talk to customer service reps and sales reps all over the county. Those encounters are overwhelmingly positive.
A couple of weeks ago, our business suddenly needed to buy something online and to pay a bill that could only be paid by credit card. But to do that, we needed to make a payment to our card and have the credit available immediately.
I called Capital One and got a young man in Virginia. He was exceptionally pleasant. He asked about the weather out in Utah and what kind of day I was having. He apologized for his computer being slow.
Then he very articulately and efficiently got through the whole transaction, including calling Zions Bank in Manti to verify funds. I have no idea if he was white, black or purple. He was just one American doing business with another American.
I have some close friends in Salt Lake City who are Latino. Earlier this year, after the Christmas break, one of the family members came to Ephraim to go to Snow College. The young man is living at my house.
I took him over to the Student Success Center at Snow to register for classes. While we were in the waiting room, a young man and then a young woman sat down across from us and started talking to each other. The boy said he was from Delta. The girl was from another nearby rural county—Beaver, I believe.
Then a tall African-American kid walked into the area. Immediately, the student from Delta jumped up. “Hey, man, you made it back,” he said. “How was your vacation?”
They shook hands in the traditional fashion, then did the vertical handshake (when I was in college, we called it the black power handshake) and then broke into a big hug. I said to myself, “That’s the future of America.”
Twenty years ago, before I bought the newspaper, I took in a half-Latina teenager as a foster child. It became clear this girl was attracted not to boys but to other girls. Her high school counselor told me, “Let her be who she is and she’ll flourish.”
Shauna and I went through a lot of ups and downs. But I think the one thing I managed to get across to her was that if she wanted to change her life, she needed education.
After she left my home, there was a period of about three years when I didn’t hear from her. I went to all kinds of lengths to find her, to no avail. Then one day she called me to let me know she had just finished her first semester of college with straight As.
To make a long story short, three months ago, Shauna completed coursework for a doctorate in audiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is now doing her internship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. She is also a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
At the beginning of August, she married a lady she has known for 13 years, and I flew to Portland for the wedding.
Do I care that she’s Hispanic and gay? Are you kidding? She’s been one of the most rewarding things that has happened in my life!
America is great because our people are great. All of our people. We will continue to be great because deep down, our values are right. Our Constitution, with its balance of powers and Bill of Rights, protects us from tyranny. Our free market economy incentivizes success.
Whatever our political divisions, we are blessed to live in the greatest nation in human history.