Editor's Corner
Reflections
by Jonathan Gramling      
Rays of Hope
Jonathan Gramling
I’m not sure when people will be reading this with the big snowstorm and a possible printing delay rooming
due to my own Holiday Blues. The end of the year is always demanding on top of the usual family and other
celebrations that take place. As a non-profit accountant, I have budgeting and agency close-out and a lot of
other tasks to take care of on top of the challenges that COVID-19 poses.

But I am a glass half full kind of person. I might even say that a glass ¼ full is darn near close to full. I try to
always be optimistic and encouraging no matter what the outlook. I always try to be optimistic and hopeful
because creative solutions demand that we remain hopeful and optimistic. Otherwise, why bother to try to find
the solution? Every problem has a solution. Sometimes it just matters if we are willing to pay the price to make
the solution happen.
Creativity is also an important quality of optimists, although it is not totally owned optimists for I have looked at the work of some artists and
have thought, ‘They are really depressed and despondent,’ although their craft was truly splendid and absorbing.

But creativity leads to solutions for the creative person sees outside of the box. They can imagine solutions where nothing else exists. They
can imagine a city like Las Vegas where only a desert exists.

And so in this COVID-19 pandemic era, we must remain creative and optimistic. We do have a future where we will be able to see each other
again in person, lots of us together in person. While there are so many features of our lives right now, even in this pandemic, that make life
worth living — the true acts of kindness and giving that happen every hour of every day and the rediscovery of people near and dear — just
think about how much our lives will be enhanced once we are free of these pandemic chains that bind us to our dwellings. Just think about
the thrill that those moments will have for each and every one of us.

I must admit at age 68 that there were parts of my life that I took for granted, whether it was family gatherings most holidays or events like
Juneteenth, La Fete de Marquette or Africa Fest. These things happened year after year after year so that I could almost sleep walk through
them. And even though you may be at them, you don’t fully appreciate them. It’s kind of like ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ where you don’t
appreciate what you have until you experience your life without them.

And what is important is that we remember that each and every one of our lives are important. Without our presence in the universe, the
universe would be forever altered. We all mean something to someone and play an important role in someone’s life. We must always
appreciate how precious our lives are, a life given to us by God, Allah, the Creator or whatever existence that we come from and will once
more return.

Always remember that you are loved. And it is important to let those around us know that we love them for sometimes it may not be very
apparent. A continual act of love may ultimately appear to be part of the wallpaper of our lives: unchanging and unnoticed. And yet often
times, those acts of love come with continued sacrifice even if the recipient of the love is unaware.

And so there is much that all of us have gone without in the past nine months. I have gone far too long without hugs. One of my sisters gave
me a hug during the pandemic and it made me mad, of all things, because it was against protocols and I did not want to be a part of a super
spreader event. I love my sister and would normally love a hug from her. But it is because I love her that I say stay six feet away. We humans
need hugs and the human touch. And we have all gone without for too long.

And a new day is coming, I can see it now. I am an optimist remember and even if that glass is ¼ full, I can still see it being full in 2021. And
I look forward to the future.

I’ve been working on some stories for 2021 and one of them will be based on interviews that I will hold — phone interviews of course —
with healthcare workers of color at UnityPoint-Meriter who have taken the COVID-19 vaccination.

I did a post on Facebook about the COVID-19 vaccine and I received a number of replies that basically discouraged Black and Brown people
from taking the vaccine, that they remained skeptical about the vaccine.

And I can truly appreciate how they may feel with the history of the Tuskegee experiment where African American men went untreated for
syphilis during a study for their detriment. They were treated no better than lab rats in the study. It didn’t occur that long ago, not too much
before I was born. And that’s not the only time that happened.

But COVID-19 is already taking a disproportionate number of Black and Brown lives because of being essential workers, lack of adequate
health care causing pre-existing health problems that exacerbate COVID-19 and so on. And that is all the more reason for people of color to
take the vaccine besides the fact that we love you!

It is my understanding that the recently passed Stimulus Bill has enough funding in it to make the vaccine available for free to everyone. Please
take it when your number is called.

And as another incentive to take it is The Capital City Hues is optimistically making preliminary plans to hold its 15th Annual Celebration on the
last Sunday in June, June 27, 2021. It will be held on the grounds of the Madison Labor Temple on S. Park Street. As true to our name, it will
be a multicultural celebration of music, dance, food and so much more. It will feature 15 10 foot wide banners displaying the covers of the
first 15 years of The Hues plus our cultural banners that we had made 10 years ago.

We will make a final decision on whether or not to go forward depending on the science and how much of the pandemic has dissipated. It
will be a vaccinated-only event with a snow fence surrounding the grounds and people required to show proof of vaccination to enter the
festival grounds.

So be optimistic and mark your calendars for Sunday, June 27, 2021 for The Hues 15th Annual Celebration. We will have so much to
celebrate! So get you vaccination and be there or be square.