Southeast Texas in the 1950’s and 1960’s embodied America’s struggle to defend the status quo. To protect the image of those in power maintaining their power through ignorantly participating in keeping down anything that threatened that way of life. Racism, classism and sexism weren’t even talked about they were just the way of life.
My first hero in life rejected all of that and rejected her comfortable middle class lifestyle the day she turned 18 and was old enough to do so and ran far from her sheltered world to find a place where the Mexicans and the “colored” people she’d spent a lifetime befriending were treated as humans. A one way ticket to Boston landed her straight into the lap of the hippie political movement.
Straight from the arms of a live-in-nanny and a Father Knows Best lifestyle into Bohemia she quickly found herself pregnant with a kind and intelligent though unreliable hippie husband, consumed by the concept of guile as an American value. Alone in the hospital, underweight and stricken with hepatitis after a life threatening journey through Pakistan trying to sneak printing equipment to rebels. The doctor looked at this terrified young girl and said. “The baby’s not coming out, we are going to have to use forceps. Do you want it to be stupid or ugly?” After 24 hours of labor all the while enduring that special treatment that doctors reserve for their very young moms, she scrambled to get the words out. “I guess ugly.”
Worried that I would grow up forgetting her struggles, she named me after Che Guevara, as a guarantee that his, hers and all of the working class heros of the world’s struggles would live on in me.