All Wet

In the wrong too long

By Hilary Berg

While driving to work the other day, I heard an interview on NPR with Don Bryant. The legendary soul singer-songwriter was on the air promoting his new album, “You Make Me Feel,” at the incredible age of 78. During the chat with host Scott Simon, the two discussed the record but also referenced his wife of some 50 years, singer Ann Peebles. Then, Simon cued the song that made the couple famous: “I Can’t Stand the Rain.”

Though familiar with the Top 40 1973 hit, I had never truly tuned into the lyrics: “I can’t stand the rain; against my window; bringing back sweet memories...”

Obviously a love song, it struck me differently on that soggy morning — did I mention it was raining? Still waking up, I heard: “I can’t stand the rain; against my window; bringing back those memories...”

Where did the “sweet” go?

I’m certain my subconscious played a role — just before the Bryant segment, NPR reported the nation’s news, including continued protests and the latest investigation into police brutality.

It hit me: In that moment, the song transformed into a kind of battle cry, “the rain” symbolizing the countless atrocities perpetrated on Black Americans, from the bow of slave ships to today’s Wendy’s parking lot. I was suddenly choking back tears.

When I arrived to the office, the real rain was pouring, soaking every inch of ground. The water was inescapable, literally in my face as I walked up to the door. Clothes drenched, glasses fogged, I felt uncomfortable, uneasy, and it all seemed too appropriate.

Honestly, I needed “waking up.” A splash to the face will do that; so will revolution in the streets. I’m all for it. Personally, I have work to do, and our industry does, too.

For OWP, allyship means representation in our publication. Our recent cover stories highlighting Asian Americans reflect our commitment to broadening the spectrum. OWP’s stories about Latinx and women winemakers and growers also illustrate our dedication to tell ALL the stories.

But, OWP’s failed to feature Oregon wine’s Black members on our cover. For this, I am responsible. The buck stops here. I had always planned to spotlight Bertony Faustin and others; I just hadn’t scheduled it yet. It’s officially on the calendar now, with plans to uncover other stories emphasizing inclusion and breaking barriers.

Unlike water under a bridge, racism is still part of America. But now, more than ever, with the water rising and all of us drenched, maybe we can finally turn the tide.

Action, not time, will decide.

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