Let’s Make a Racket

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When the world gives me a headache, I withdraw for a bit, but it doesn’t always work. Sometimes the only cure is letting it all out – the rage, the pain, the unrelenting despair. I wonder if you feel that way too.

In her wonderful poem called “Dragons,” Sarah Kaye, says: “Your racket will wake the dragons.”

Today there’s a racket inside me. When did it start? Not this week or last month or even November 2016…

Mr. Belmont, my gray-haired boss at the state employment agency, put me in charge of an essay contest for high school students. The topic was “Hire the Handicapped,” which is how we used to talk back in 1970. The young man to whom I awarded the top prize had surveyed local companies and found one in particular to be especially lacking in the number of its “handicapped” employees. Unfortunately, the CEO of that same company was the sponsor of the contest, giver of the prize money…and not at all pleased. When Mr. Belmont ordered me to disqualify the winner, the racket in me woke up a real firebreather.

“I’ve never seen you so upset,” he said, calling me into his office.

“So what?” I demanded through angry tears. “This is not about me being upset!”

I was a shy, girlish woman at 25 and working at my second job after college in the 60s, back when we believed we would change the world. I could not let a corporate cover-up take away this prize without a fight. No way. Not if I had anything to say about it. Which I did. I let Mr. Belmont have it, and he listened. And when I finished, he asked me what to do. I told him to figure it out. That was his job.

The corporate sponsor accepted my choice after the teen added a sentence to his essay acknowledging the company’s efforts to be more inclusive.

That was a long time ago. Releasing the dragon is no guarantee I’ll get what I want. But letting him sleep is no longer an option. Not today. Not any day. Not any more.

What’s your “dragon” got to say? Tell me in the comments!

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The winner of last month’s drawing for Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye is Mary Jo Doig. Congrats, Mary Jo, and thanks for your comments!

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