Community Palette

Light at the End of the Tunnel

January 17, 2021

Distribution of the coronavirus vaccine is seen by most around the world as the light at the end of the tunnel. Being over 65 allowed me to register in DC to receive my first shot of the Moderna vaccine which I did on Friday morning. It was an incredible relief to finally feel at some point my life would return to normal. 

Like so many others here and around the world I have lived with the constant fear in the back of my mind of contacting coronavirus. For me that fear began ten months ago in the beginning of March when returning from my last vacation. I was flying home from visiting friends in Carmel Valley, California and changed planes in Phoenix. It was the first time I saw anyone wearing a mask. Upon arriving in DC I read everything I could about the virus and immediately looked for masks I could buy. One of my friends had a contact who was importing them from China and I bought my first 100 through him. From the middle of March until today have never left my apartment without a mask. Signs went up in my condo building saying masks had to be worn in the lobby and halls and only one person at a time allowed on the elevators. 

I then did what others did and stocked up on toilet paper, paper towels and Lysol disinfectant spray. As someone who is older with pre-existing medical conditions who was told if I contacted the virus it could be very serious, my life changed very quickly.  

Being a single gay man who loves people and was used to eating out four days a week, eating all my meals at home, and alone, was difficult. I don’t cook, except for scrambled eggs, and using the microwave. My friends kid me my oven is used to store sweaters. Some of my friends decamped to Rehoboth Beach for the duration, where I have a condo, but felt if I needed healthcare it was better in DC and living alone was easier in DC. 

Over the past ten months I have been to my beach house just three times for a total of maybe fifteen days over the summer. I would eat every meal alone for four months. When restaurants began to serve outside I considered eating a meal with a friend but only if that friend had been as careful as me and only at a restaurant following strict guidelines on appropriate distancing and requiring servers to wear masks and gloves.   

With great trepidation and definitely some fear the first place I ventured out to eat a meal with a friend was at one of my favorite places in Rehoboth Beach, Aqua Grill. I also went out each morning for coffee at The Coffee Mill where I knew the owners and staff were being very safe and I sat outside with everyone around me wearing a mask and distancing. In DC I ate a few lunches at Annie’s. I can count on both hands the number of times I have had a meal with friends since March. I just didn’t feel safe. I would work out alone and then when it was reopened with a trainer at FIT, which is a training gym and they were allowed to reopen with strict guidelines.  I had some friends who were being as careful as I was and we would walk around the city every afternoon, seven days a week. I previously shared some of the pictures taken on those walks in the DISH. 

So now I have my first vaccination and counting the days till I get the second shot twenty-eight days from now. I will continue to wear my mask and wash my hands often but after the second shot look forward to eating out more often and doing things safely with friends not having that fear in the back of my mind all the time. 

I know my experiences don’t compare to those who have lost jobs, can’t afford food or even lost their homes. We must insist the Biden administration do everything they can to help those people regain their lives and livelihoods.  We must never forget all those who lost their lives. But for those of us who have survived there is finally a glimmer of hope and that light at the end of the tunnel. 

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Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy New Year

December 27, 2020

This has been a difficult year for so many. Christmas and Kwanza may have been celebrated alone or by a zoom call and New Year’s Eve will be a solitary time for many. 

We all want 2020 to end as quickly as possible. So many lost loved ones and found themselves in situations they never thought they would see. Families with mothers and/or fathers or both who lost jobs and are now losing their homes and lining up at food banks. There are those like me who found themselves eating nearly every meal alone for nearly ten months. 

Yet some did find things to be thankful for. Children were born and some people found new jobs and found their savings and 401(k) go up. I know many who also found the rewards of sharing their good fortune with others.  There is the saying ‘it is better to give than to receive’ and many found how true that is during this pandemic year. Whether it was checking up on an elderly neighbor and offering to shop for them, donating to a food bank, or offering someone without shelter a home. Donating a Christmas or Kwanzaa gift to ‘Toy’s for Tots’; no matter how big or small the act of kindness it means something to others and makes you feel good.

As we near the end of 2020 and finally see a light at the end of the tunnel, the vaccine, to end this pandemic we must make a broader commitment as a society. As the economies of the world open up and borders reopen, we must commit to never letting anyone fall through the cracks.  We will never be fully back unless everyone is back. We must do everything we can to rebuild the lives of those who lost the most and ensure they can once again fully participate in our society. We must ensure them jobs and homes and an equal opportunity to support themselves and their families. 

We must also never forget those who were lost to the pandemic. We must remember them as we learn from the mistakes that were made to prepare for what comes next and we know there will be a next. We must learn through science we can make a difference but also through compassion and leadership. We must never again elect leaders who show distain for people by pretending things are OK when they are not. 

2021 can be a year of recovery and learning. When enough people are vaccinated we can get our children back in school and try to make up for the year they missed. We can fund programs to help do that. We must make our states and cities whole through federal funding so they don’t have to lay off teachers and nurses and other first responders. We do that by making sure people understand it is only the federal government that can have a deficit budget and remind them our founding fathers understood that.

We must make the changes needed to move toward equal justice and equal opportunity for all. I look forward to Noon on January 20, 2021 when the nation can begin to make progress and ‘Build back better’. 

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Karl Racine for Attorney General of the United States

November 16, 2020

After the sleaziness of William Barr the nation needs an Attorney General who will restore trust, integrity and honesty in the Department of Justice. One person who could do that is Karl Anthony Racine, current Attorney General of the District of Columbia.

Racine was born in Port-au-Prince Haiti. He and his family fled the Duvalier regime immigrating to D.C. when he was three years old. He went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania where he was the captain of the basketball team leading them to two Ivy League championships. He went on to earn his law degree from the University of Virginia, School of Law. While there he worked at a pro bono clinic representing migrant farm workers and he and his mother produced the first Haitian Creole/English legal dictionary intended to aid Haitian immigrants in the United States.

After graduation Racine joined Venable LLP. He left to become a staff attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. He has moved back and forth between the private sector and government service. He served as an associate counsel in the Clinton White House and also served as a member of the D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission.  When Racine returned to private practice he became the first African American managing partner of a top-100 law firm, Veneble LLP. I first met Karl in 2014 when he ran for office realizing quickly I knew his mother Dr. Marie Racine from my service on the Board of Trustees of the University of the District of Columbia where she taught. It was clear he inherited her ability, her drive, her integrity and honesty.  

The next Attorney General will be tasked with bringing stability, integrity and honesty back to the Department of Justice. All lost first under the stewardship of Jeff Sessions and fully destroyed by William Barr who has allowed Trump to use the Department of Justice merely as an extension of his own legal team. Today Barr is an enabler of Trump’s effort to cling to office and steal the election. An effort which will ultimately fail.  

Racine is well respected among his peers across the nation. He won numerous cases for the people of the District against utility companies, landlords, and others who would take advantage of those who could not fight for themselves. He is scrupulously honest and demands the same from all those who work for him.

According to Wikipedia “as D.C. Attorney General, Racine established four priorities for his office. They are data-driven juvenile justice reform; protecting consumers from abusive tactics by unscrupulous businesses; preserving affordable housing and protecting tenants in communities across the District; and advancing democracy and safeguarding public integrity. Racine helped end mandatory shackling of juveniles appearing before D.C. Superior Court and expanded options for rehabilitating low-risk juvenile offenders with a diversion program that helps young people get and stay on the right track. The program has achieved a success rate of nearly 80 percent and participation in the program has increased five-fold, positively impacting young lives and increasing public safety. Racine also established a standalone Office of Consumer Protection within OAG. The office has focused on outreach, education and legal actions to protect consumers and has brought tens of millions of dollars to the District through settlements and judgments in cases against corporate wrongdoers. In 2017 Racine established the Public Advocacy Division to bring affirmative litigation to preserve affordable housing, protect residents against wage theft, safeguard the environment and ensure public integrity.” 

Racine has served as a board member of the DC Legal Aid Society and as a member of the steering committee of the Whitman-Walker Clinic's Legal Services Program serving the LGBTQ+ community. 

According to the Washington Post “Racine is also increasingly cutting a figure in national politics, especially in an era when Democratic attorneys general are gaining newfound celebrity thanks to ceaseless court battles with the president. In 2017, he joined Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh in suing Trump, alleging that foreign payments to the Trump International Hotel  violate anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution.  That was followed by the opening of an investigation into sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Washington and by a lawsuit against Facebook over  alleged breaches in users’ privacy — the first such action by U.S. authorities. Then Racine became the third state or federal law enforcement official to subpoena Trump’s inaugural committee in a probe of how it raised and spent money.”

It is clear President-elect Biden could find no one more qualified and respected than Karl Anthony Racine to serve as the next Attorney General of the United States.  

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