Bus Stop Epiphany

School is back in and my oldest, Kalieyah, is returning, this time, as a kindergartner. We are up early every morning moving swiftly through a routine that begins with Eden, the baby, yelling, “MOMMY!” over and over again from her bottom bunk and ends with Kalieyah climbing aboard the school bus that stops in our apartment complex.

A few mornings ago, we were standing in the bus line and I was giving Kalieyah my usual “have a great day, be on your best behavior” pep talk when I made a startling observation. Of the 30 or so children ranging from grades Pre-Kindergarten to Fifth, my child was the only black child in the line. The other children were all Hispanic. In fact, most of the children in my daughter’s class are Hispanic as well and most of the teachers are fluent in both Spanish and English.

I thought for a moment and realized that the great battle over immigration reform was being played out right there on that humid August morning as we all stood waiting for the bus. These parents, mostly women, chatting among themselves and making final wardrobe adjustments for their little ones, were the topic of discussion in the media and on senate floors at the state and federal levels. There were powers at work, likely at that very moment, to limit or halt altogether access to this country to families such as these. These Spanish speaking, almond hued folk poised to send their children into the bowels of the American indoctrination machine were likely no different than me, with worries and concerns similar to mine; paying bills on time, keeping a roof over the children’s heads and food in fridge and yet, by virtue of birth, even though we are neighbors, we are worlds apart.

I thought of the propaganda mill churning out images of slick haired, thick accented illegals jumping fences and hiding in car trunks pouring into the United States snatching jobs from under the noses of its good and decent citizens, stealing tax dollars doled out in the form of aide programs providing unearned and undeserved health care and food stamps.

Then I looked around again at the faces of children, some barely out of the clutches of slumber standing sullen and droopy eyed, others wide awake and rambunctiously running back and forth through the line. They are all sneakered and backpacked and ready to go. Proud moms look on. A few dads sit quietly by. I see normal people engaging in a quite common task. No terrorist threats here. No infringement upon my life, liberty or pursuits of happiness. So, what then, is all the hoopla about? Could it be that someone with a different world view and a less inclusive attitude in another place at another time engaged in a similar ritual and while standing there noticing the racial ratio, felt a pang of fear akin to that experienced by the biblical Pharaoh upon realizing the size of the Hebrew population right before ordering genocide? Was there something unspoken in that bus line; something that sounded a lot like “minority” and “waning control?”

I come out of my daydream in time to see the bus turn the corner. The vigil climaxes. The children board and are on their way. We, the parents, stand a moment longer until the bus is out of sight and slowly begin to disperse. A woman passes in front of me. We almost collide. She quickly bounds away whispering, “So sorry, so sorry.” I put my hand up, smile and say, “no problem.” It is a humid August morning in Roswell and we are not enemies.

Bus Stop Epiphany

Aeona Bliss

Roswell, United States

  • Artist

Artist's Description

Observations during a mundane morning task.

desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

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