To the people of Austin, I’ve been taking photographs for Austin Weekly News for about 10 years now, ever since the paper was bought by my employer, Wednesday Journal Inc.
When I started I was just flat out scared. I live in Oak Park and like most white people around here, Austin was just a scary place that I drove through once in awhile. Now it’s a community, filled with people who cover the whole range of what humans are capable of; mostly kind, decent folks who work and who are trying to make a good life for their kids. Those working hard to make Austin a better place, some with limited resources but great determination and energy. Those with talent and imagination, who make the world better with their dance or music, writings, painting or other art, and who are willing to share and teach those talents to others. And, of course, there are the exceptional ones.
But everywhere I’ve gone I’ve been greeted with courtesy and kindness, friendship and not a little food. If every white person could experience what I have in Austin there would be no racism. A lot of the time I’ve been working in Austin I’ve been with Delores McCain. Delores is one of those people who work to make Austin better through her writing. We’ve had so much fun doing Streetbeat, going out and asking random people the question we have that week, and taking their photo. She’s a pretty amazing person in her own right; she seems to know everybody and probably deserves to have a book written about her. We’ve become good friends; I hope that will continue far into the future.
I want to thank you all for the honor and privilege of working in Austin. I’m sure I’ll still be in the neighborhood on occasion; see you then.