Our Country is Enraged. That's a Good Thing.

Jun 02, 2020

WARNING: Honest, messy thoughts here. I am not going to say here what I am "supposed to say." I am going to speak from my heart. From my personal reality, showing up in total and complete honesty. I am learning. Here in front of you. With you. 

Dear Parents,

I, alongside you, am deeply sad.  

I am sad for the lessons we humans have not yet learned and for the pain and fear this causes. 

We mothers and fathers know what it means to love our child and want only the best for them.

To want to protect them and to sometimes not be able to. 

There are many reasons we sometimes cannot protect our children. Circumstance. religion, medical diagnosis. We can't make it all go away.

But racism. Racism is beyond all of this. It affects whole generations. It literally denies people of color their wholeness, their dignity, and literally their life.

As a North African Jew, I have always felt "other." And yet in this country I am considered white by so many. This has always confused me. I have literally grown up my whole life knowing that because of my heritage, there are people who would like to murder me. And yet other than a single memory of a sign at a swimming pool that said "No Blacks, Jews or Dogs Allowed" I have had near complete and total white privilege. Yes, I once had my car scrawled with hate graffiti when I left a box of Passover matzah in it. Yes, I hid my son's Bar Mitzvah paperwork when he wanted to read it aloud in public. I have fear in my body about being "outed" in unsafe spaces. But I have a choice. My heritage is not written in the color of my skin. I can hide if I want to. Sort of. 

And honestly, I have accepted this opportunity to hide into the "whiteness". The pain of my ancestry's past was too much to bear. I was happy to be "done." To have a lifetime where it was safe for me to go out. And yet I see that my complicity is not ok. My brothers and sisters cannot all hide. NO ONE should have to hide. Why did I grow up thinking we need to? Because the world tells us we do, and some part of me just accepted that. 

Even as I write this, I have fear that I am offending someone, or that I will be accused of co-opting this discussion by opening up about my ancestry's history in the face of all that is happening now. I do not do this to make my story more important than what is happening right now in our country. I am discussing my experience because it is through this lens that I can understand and process someone else's story. I am not Black. I never will be. But touching base with my history allows me to examine the ways I may be in trauma still, and too scared to step forward for those who deserve and need it. 

I have often wondered how was it that the German people went about their daily lives, knowing what was happening. Didn't they care? What was it like to not care like that? Or were they too scared to care? 

And now I know. Because I have done it too. I have stood by, knowing these things happen and not standing up enough to cry out and say STOP. I have been a part of letting this happen by allowing myself to go on blindly, thinking that because I wouldn't do it, I was already part of the solution.

I'll be honest. I don't know exactly WHAT TO DO today. I know it hurts. I know I care. I know I see what is happening and it's real and I don't deny it for one second. 

So today I say, I do not have the answers yet. I do not know enough yet about what to do. I am so tired from all the caring that must be done. The generation upon generation of systematized racism against people of color. The depressing climate change. The worldwide violence towards women. The continued oppression of the LGBTQ+ among us. The systemic devaluing of children. Where do I need to care most? How the hell do we move the needle on all of this? 

I don't know. But I know the rage is important. 

I know the collective rage of our country is saying STOP. I know it is calling every single one of us to step into a higher level of truth and honesty with our values when it comes to racism. It is calling us to OPENLY AND LOUDLY refuse to keep being part of the problem. 

Our rage is saying DO. BETTER. NOW. 

So I fumble in the darkness and I know that I will listen. I already know certain things I will change in my business. In my life as a mother. In my life as a friend. 

I do not have all the answers. I do however hear the call. And tired though I am, I will answer. And I will do better. 

I also welcome your input as to what I can do to serve the people of color in my community better. 

And in the meantime, I thank you, Rage. You have every right to be here. May you light our way to the change that needs to be.

P.S. Have you snagged your MFA STARTER PACK yet? 👇