Denver Sikh Parade

Denver Sikh Parade

 

I’ve been immersed in planning a trip to India this winter, and experiencing the kindness and hospitality from the Denver Sikh community has ratcheted that anticipation up ten fold!  I’ve been friends with a few Sikhs over the years but I’ve never been at a large gathering like this. The kindness and laughter I experienced today has me looking up all the places my new Sikh friends suggested I visit.  I could not walk ten steps on Saturday without being offered juice or water or some tasty snack.  And everyone I spoke to patiently answered my questions.  And the smiles.  Always with the smiles.

And for me, this is all wonderful.  But one of the reasons for the second annual Sikh parade is to promote awareness and acceptance of the Sikh community.   One of the speakers lamented the bullying their kids experience in school.  And several people I spoke to mentioned their own child’s experience with being bullied for being a Sikh.  Google Sikh and hate crime to get a full appreciation of the challenges they face.

It’s not about whether or not they should be here.  They belong here as much as you or I do.  This is their country.  That is not up for debate among decent people.  Our challenge is to stand as their ally against the ignorance still too prevalent in this country.  And, unfortunately, the current leadership of this country stokes that stupidity.  We’re better than this.

“Sikhism teaches that all human beings are equal.  Sikhs believe that each individual can realize the divine through practicing three core beliefs: devotion to God, truthful living, and service to humanity.”

 

 

 

I love this little dude’s expression.

Nothing more American than diversity. And I have yet meet a group of people who love this country more than Sikhs.

…and nothing says we embrace the USA like a gas guzzling monster truck.

This. Exactly this.

Kids running to jump on the truck.

Posted in Documentary

AHCA Protest

AHCA Protest

 

The stories this morning from people whose lives were saved by Obamacare was incredibly moving but my touchstone in the healthcare debate is a lady I heard met months ago. Her story broke my heart. She described what it was like before Obamacare. Not having healthcare because of a pre-existing condition. She suffered from multiple catastrophic medical conditions. She was was already bankrupted from her illnesses, and was struggling to get adequate treatment. She was in constant pain with no relief in sight. Her situation was so dire that she prayed for her kidneys to fail.

I’ve heard hundreds of these stories. But hers is the one that doesn’t fade into the narrative that is our healthcare system. I don’t for a second discount others’ suffering but she is the touchstone of this insanity for me. She prayed for her kidneys to fail so she could get on Medicare. Her story alone is heartbreaking. That one person has to go through that is almost inconceivable. That she represents millions of our fellow citizens…what the fuck is wrong with this country?

 

Thank you Tiffany for making this event happen. You are amazing.

Tay Anderson as he is being introduced. Tay, at eighteen, is the youngest person to ever run for the Denver School Board…

…and he is an incredible speaker.

 

 

The crowd listening to Tay speak.

Colorado State Rep Joe Salazar. Our next Attorney General.

Mike Johnson, candidate for CO governor. I think he’s got my vote.

This gentleman is alive because of Obamacare.

Another speaker helped by Obamacare.

Dustin Leitzel, candidate for CO senator in 2020. That’s your seat Cory Gardner.

Here’s my unofficial poll. The folks gathered in front of the State Capitol received more support via cars honking than any of the many events I’ve photographed there.

Posted in Documentary

Vive La France!

Vive La France!

 

Vive la France! Thank you for overwhelmingly rejecting nationalism and fascism and xenophobia. I hope we can follow your example in the 2018 and 2020 elections here in the States. I’m looking forward to another trip to my favorite city in the world to celebrate!

 

Vive La France!

Posted in Europe Travel

ICE Demonstration

ICE Demonstration

 

Last night I photographed the vigil for undocumented immigrants being held for deportation at the ICE center in Aurora.

 

I get that people of good will can disagree on immigration policy. And calling everyone a racist who disagrees with you on how to handle immigration is not helpful. But it is inhumane to separate families. A father who has lived in this country for fifteen years and has children that are US citizens should not be deported. And the teenager that came to this country as a toddler should not be deported. And a million other examples. These are human beings. I’ve read the parts in red in the bible, and I’m pretty sure what JC’s take on this would be.

 

Here’s the kicker for me. I constantly hear the trope that undocumented workers are living off the system. I have lived in diverse areas all my life, and I have not known a single undocumented worker who doesn’t work his ass off. I’m sure, like any demographic, they exist. But all I’ve personally known are decent human beings who contribute to this country. And whatever your position on immigration policy in United States, surely, as decent human beings, we can all agree that Trump’s demonization of an entire race and country is deplorable.

 
* I have flirted with learning Spanish over the years. And I can exchange pleasantries and speak enough Spanish to sort of get by when I travel. But it finally hit me last night that I can’t be the kind of ally I want to be if I don’t speak Spanish fluently. So I’m all in. And I know a beautiful Spanish speaker that will def hold me accountable to this.

Marching to the ICE Center in Aurora. It was heartening hearing all the cars that honked in support.

Marching to the ICE Center in Aurora. It was heartening hearing all the cars that honked in support.

005

006

008

009

This mother and her children were there in support of her husband, Arturo, who has been in this country for fifteen years. He has his own business. His children are US citizens. He is exactly the kind of person this country needs.

010

I love the symbolism of this photo. They aren’t meek and timid like we seem to like our immigrants and minorities. They are powerful and demand to be treated like human beings. I respect that.

011

012

013

014

015

016

017

Here’s the only up close and personal insight I’ve gotten into the mindset of ICE employees. There were protestors on each corner of the intersection. Volunteer traffic security did a great job of making sure folks stayed out of the street. And thank God they did. Several times, ICE employees in uniform and driving monster pickup trucks, roared around the corner. They did this despite the fact they could clearly see there were demonstrators. I saw a similar callousness from LE at Standing Rock.

018

020

The love.  It’s always the love that gets me.

Posted in Documentary, Humanitarian