The Candlelight Vigil Lone Applauder
Reflections on the protocols for collective mourning and remembrance
At candlelight vigils, no matter how rousing the speaker, people can’t applaud to show their approval because they have lit candles in their hands.
Such was the case this past Friday when my son Jukie and I walked to Central Park in downtown Davis to participate in the Vigil for the victims of the Atlanta Shootings. As is the case for the many (usually mournful) events that Jukie and I have attended at the area now called “Solidarity Space” before the grand old oak tree, we opted not to accept a candle (we like to keep everyone safe), so my applause was often the loudest. Hosted by the Davis Phoenix Coalition and many other organizations, the event featured talks by local civic leaders and activists, including former California Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, and the Renetta Tull, the UC Davis first Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
I’ve known Yamada for years, having welcomed her to our driveway when she was campaigning door-to-door for her seat in the California Assembly, and later for the State Senate. I so enjoyed our long conversation when she came to my house, in part because I got to surprise Yamada that I actually knew something of important local issues and local political leaders. Also, she and I had a lot in common. A social worker like my wife Kate, Yamada and I had both lived in Washington DC, we both have hosted public radio shows (I might even have listened to her Jazz and information radio on DC the Pacifica station WPFW), and we both care dearly for people with disabilities.
Yamada spoke with such authority and eloquence at the Vigil Friday night that one could hear in her voice her years of experience arguing for compassionate policies in the California legislature. As she pointed out, anti-Asian and anti-Asian-American violence has been unfortunately prominent for decades, and has become more egregious, widespread, and deadly during and now after the Trump years. I myself love living in America’s most diverse state, but still in many parts of our state, and more so in parts of other states, any kind of difference is confronted with suspicion, and increasingly, with harassment, persecution, and violence. Joining more than 200 others at the candlelight vigil Friday night made me grateful for the perspectives and clear thinking of local leaders such as Mariko Yamada, Anoosh Jorjorian from the Davis Phoenix Coalition, and our Davis Mayor Gloria Partida.
A recent article introducing a reading list on Asian-American political and human rights concerns, published by the website Electric Lit, points out that “Anti-Asian violence and discrimination has increased precipitously, but it has a long history in the United States.” The article, titled “A Literary Guide to Combat Anti-Asian Racism in America,” lists a number of important titles, about half of which I have heard of, but few of which I have read. I am thinking of starting with Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong. I have followed Hong on Twitter for a long time, so I figure that it’s time for me to read her most recent book. If more people are being shakened awake by the terrible events of March 16th, then perhaps more will read book lists like this one as a first step to learning more and broadening their circle of understanding and compassion. As Maya Angelou says at the end of her poem “Human Family,” We are more alike, my friends, / than we are unalike.”
In addition to topics raised above, my most recent copy of Pub Quiz features questions on the country of turkey, proper names, home runs, great Russians, quality proteins, runaways, films with male leads, the 17thcentury, alternatives to Philadelphia, conversations in Hebrew and other languages, kindergarten orientations, British poet, notable siblings, fears, unlucky protagonists, dirty rooms, unlikely instrument, favorite locations, endearing nicknames, northern California cities, mysteries of Canada, Jack Canfield, godfathers, places of worship, famous rocks, the long origins of short words, smart guys, current events, and Shakespeare. Would you like to see a copy? Subscribe via Patreon, or send me a note full of entreaties.
Speaking of subscribers, I send special thanks to our new subscribers for March, as well as to the teams that sustain this enterprise: Quizimodo, The Original Vincibles (who will receive a book this week), The Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, The Outside Agitators, and Bono’s Bro Bono Oboe Bonobos. There will be a musical instrument question on tonight’s quiz, but the correct answer will regrettably not be “Oboes.” If I had been on that team, we would have inserted the word “Hobos” somewhere in the title of the team name. My favorite hobo is the late U. Utah Phillips, the last performer at the old Palms Playhouse, once located just a couple blocks from my house. Remember live performances? I walked 12 miles yesterday, so I could easily have walked two blocks to see Mumbo Gumbo or Odetta perform at The Palms. Those were the days!
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P.S. Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:
Mottos and Slogans. What soft drink uses the slogan “Be More Than One Flavor”?
Internet Culture. What app is going to start offering background checks on would-be dates?
Newspaper Headlines. As we learned this morning, what film with a monosyllabic film title garnered the most Oscar nominations with ten?
P.P.S. "I don’t think any of us can speak frankly about pain until we are no longer enduring it." Arthur Golden