On Saturday, we took the train into Glasgow, unaware that we would be joined by fellas headed to the football game. The train has never really been crowded during any of our trips. Saturday was different. It was only 10 in the a.m. but that didn’t stop the fellas from getting the party started with gin and coke. Ah… the foolishness of youth. Don’t you miss it?
There is so much to see and do in Glasgow, it takes weekly trips to fit it in. If I told your our first stop was the Museum of Modern Art, I’d be lying. It was Starbucks. In Glasgow, it’s like Seattle. There’s one on every corner. None in Ayr, however.
It was our good fortune to walk into the museum and discover this exhibit underway. Museums, like healthcare, like higher ed, are paid for here already. It costs us nothing to visit. Thus, the museum was busy. Lots of people of various ages. Most of them local, though I did met a gal from Italy.
It’s funny how much you can learn about a person by their reaction to a photo such as this one. We were both taken by the sheer beauty and otherworldliness of it. We had a brief conversation about colonialism and what drives one group of people, or in Putin’s case, one person, to have power over others. What makes a soul want to oppress another soul?
Then I meandered upstairs to encounter my own past, when magazines and newspapers alike featured Andy Warhol, partying at Club 54, or posing with his Campbells. It brought back visions of Mama in her babydoll Goldie Hawn dresses. What a time.
I learned about the work of Beryl Cook and how the charm of it all is tainted because of the racist graffiti on the bridgewalk. Wogs. It’s faint. I’m not sure you can see it. But it is the slang word in Scotland equivalent to the N-word of my youth. I first learned about it from reading Jackie Kay’s memoir, Red Dust Road. Every culture has a way of demeaning others, it seems.
But then I happened upon the sunflowers of David Hockney and was again reminded of those in Ukraine and all the ways in which good-hearted people are doing all they can to be of help, offering homes and meals, and strollers and stuffies, and warm embraces and tears of gratefulness. We live in the juxtaposition.
Afterwards, we went in search of a place to eat and as fortune would have it, stumbled upon a anti-racism protest at George’s Square. It’s been discombobulating sometimes to be out and about in Scotland. Me and Ellen. White and Black/Latino. We have both noticed the stares. Ellen says she’s going to write a book title “My Travels with a White Woman.” Some people, well, to be clear, always older men with white hair, stare us down with looks that tell us all we need to know without asking. Racism can be communicated without saying a word.
I’ve suggested to Ellen that perhaps we should hold hands as we walk just to really set those folks off. We mostly just laugh about it but we have the luxury to do that. Many do not. So stumbling upon a pro-Ukraine, anti-racism rally cheered us. We spent a good hour going around and talking with folks, and listening to the speakers talk about the UK’s prime minister Boris Johnson. All of it taking place near statues of the colonial era. A place where statues have been erected to those directly involved in the slave trade.
Isn’t it the way of things, however, that those who have faced the most oppression are those that lead the rest of us to rise up against it? The world outcry against Putin, against his war upon the people of Ukraine, is motivated by people being aware of history, people remembering how costly such wars are, and how these men in power always get to decide if we live or die.
Our new friend, Voss, an architect from London, who now lives in Glasgow, walked us to a terrific Indian restaurant Dhabba in Merchant City, which just happened to be a place we had walked past on our prior art walk. Dhabba is located right underneath the Falling in Love street art. And directly across the street from the street art in honor of COP24/Climate Change conference.
And yes, the food was amazing. On our way there, we encountered the loveliest of moments. A wedding underway. How she walked in those heels on cobblestones, I have no idea. But she was graceful about it.
Despite the breeze, the kilts remained intact, as they headed straight for the most moving of murals in all of Glasgow. Not the Falling in Love one, But the one calling for all people to nurture the earth.
You just know this couple are going to do great things in their lives because they already have a vision for what the world should look like. They wanted to ensure that they captured that vision on the day that was most special to them. These are the kinds of people we need to be electing to office. The women and men who envision a world, not of domination, but a world of togetherness. A world where we nurture one another and the earth.
This is a normal Saturday in Glasgow. A mass of people, mostly locals, going about their day, visiting the merchants, visiting each other, drinking coffee and wine, listening to music, performing music, engaging in what they call Glasgow pratter. Showing us all how life can be when our goal is to build community, to live peaceably with all men, how we can go about life, laughing, dining, generally happy people, who don’t have to dodge the bombs of a madman unrestrained.
So just how do we achieve this?
We vote. We vote for better people to represent us.
We vote out the Putins of the world. We make angry white men a thing of the past.
We vote in kindness and good-heartedness.
In the face of racism and the racists who perpetuate it, we join hands and defeat them.
The way the Ukrainians are doing.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of the forthcoming book The Murder Gene, May, 2022. Available for pre-order now wherever find books are sold.