“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” — Audre Lorde
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Late last week, I was waiting for takeoff on a short connecting flight from Chicago to Flint. A middle-aged, heavy-set woman came aboard and sat directly across from me, while one of her companions sat with her and the other directly behind me. Immediately upon sitting, the woman pulled the top of her shirt over her nose and mouth and succumbed to a pretty intense coughing fit. It was at this point that I noticed how labored her breathing was. Her two companions were offering whatever aid and succor they could, while I found myself tensing.
They say timing is everything. Being born in Flint, Michigan–in 1979–this axiom resonates deeply with me. 1979 saw the US gripped in an energy crisis. Global oil production was bottle-necked due, in part, to the Iranian Revolution of 1978. In 12 short months, oil prices doubled. Snaking lines of traffic lurched impatiently toward gas station pumps that often ran out of fuel long before everyone was served.