This past week has been disturbing and heart wrenching as our country has exploded in reaction to gross injustices and continued racism. For me, it brought back memories of heading to San Clemente Beach in 1965 to go surfing, and passing what seemed like miles of troops heading the other way en route to Los Angeles to quell the Watts riots. That was 55 years ago, but I remember it well. Though I lived some distance away from the tumult, the smoke of those fires could be clearly seen. And, like today, what started in Watts spread rapidly across the country.
There have been times in my life when I didn’t have toilet paper. I usually had a roof over my head (even if it was a carroof), but we didn’t always have finished floors. Did you know that the term “dirt poor” is an Americanism from the 1930s referring to someone living in a house that has a dirt floor? In the United States in the 1990s, I was dirt poor, fleeing from one terrifying temporary non-home to another. Being dirt poor is not just a third world condition, it’s not just a Great Depression Era throw-back, and it doesn’t exclude any race.