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  • Writer's pictureKaren L

Nike Shoes

The front page of today's Washington Post has a picture of a little girl carrying a Nike shoe box out of the rubble of the mobile home that had been her home. Terrible tornadoes ripped through rural southwestern Mississippi, affecting mostly black residents who live below the poverty line. What struck me was the shoe box.

How often do we buy shoes and open the box at home? The Nike logo is ubiquitous in our lives. But the juxtaposition of a little girl carrying the box as she climbed out of rubble, as bizarre as it seems, was not shocking. We view these images daily. Scientists do not know the relationship between severe tornadoes and climate change. All I know from my lay standpoint is that wind has increased in intensity in recent years. Regardless of any correlation between climate change and tornadoes, we will experience more weather related tragedies and strange occurrences, for example the rain that never stops in California. People tend to be oblivious to what goes on around them--be it weather, safety/general awareness, political upheaval. Granted we suffer from bad news fatigue, worn down with earthquakes, fires, floods, dictators, and wars. I am guilty. But, I do not tune out completely. I focus on my immediate environment and the world as best I can. No one is perfect or Mother Theresa (except for her). I often ignore homeless people or those begging on traffic islands. I get tired of emails, requests for donations, and legislative reports from local politicians. I am blessed or cursed. I wake up easily and often-- in a metaphoric sense--noticing something that does not seem right--a noice, smell, or person. For example, what is happening in a section of Bethesda, Maryland. Today, I tried to visit a neighborhood with beautiful cherry blossoms, our beloved delicately flowering trees that show their impermanent beauty for a week at the most. No go--the residents have banned cars which is fine. But massive construction of an unnecessary new shopping area has caused adjacent streets to be blocked off. Thereby making a pleasant Sunday afternoon spring tradition no longer possible. So an affluent neighborhood has decided to be exclusive and unwelcoming. But worse, the rebuilding of a small strip mall in a typical inside-the-beltway community of our county is turning into I-Don't-Know-What.

Sacred land for our African American neighbors is being built over and desecrated. It was bad enough when a parking lot was placed over the burial grounds of former slaves, but now there will be more and bigger shops, offices, and apartments. There is one tiny parcel of land being contested. So far, the county has not seen fit to save that small section for a memorial site. Across the street from the construction site is an adequate, modern shopping area--once a thriving black residential subdivision. Therefore, there is no need to expand the other area. Greed is next to impossible to fight even in liberal Montgomery County, Maryland. So I continue to write letters and sign petitions. Stay vigilant. And hope the little girl and her family in Mississippi get a better house. ©Karen Levi 2023

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