I know where I was when I was overcome with emotion. We were at the farm. It was a Wednesday afternoon. I was working the vegetable garden and I cried. I cried the messy tears that one can do when they are alone.
Our world was/is a different place. We were just starting to come out of quarantine. And George Floyd, Auhmaud Arbery, David Mcatee, and Breonna Taylor all had just been killed. My guy came in and reported news from a fairly reliable source about details of the 2nd wave of the virus. Details that sound scary and terribly sad.
Back out to the field he went.
And there I found myself. Alone. Planting seeds. And crying.
My tears fell as I thought about the virus and the impact on the world. How and when can my mom feel safe to go the grocery store? How and when can our kids go back to College and think about living a normal life? How and when will our businesses be able to really open? How and when can we travel again?
And that right then is when I realized I really was a part of the larger problem. The world was crashing and here I was thinking about College and travel. Much of what I was fretting over are the privileges of life. I was not fretting over the safety of my family or how were we going to eat that night.
I have always staunchly believed I am not a racist. I have always believed ALL lives matter. Equal treatment for all. No matter who you are and where you have come from. I have always said I do NOT see color.
At the farm the tv stays on a lot. I happened to walk through and see a white lady from #heykentucky on tv addressing the Black Lives Matter movement, and I began to question her credibility. She was born in a small town somewhere and now living in Kentucky. Who was she to voice her opinion? Turns out she is married to a black man. She said her husbands best friend is a white police officer. And, that you can bet they see their differences in color but they just don’t care. They appreciate their differences and respect them.
A lightbulb went off for me.
I guess I have been wrong all of this time. I DO see color. I see color just like I see a boy or a girl. Like I see someone with good style and bad style. Kind eyes and ugly eyes. But, I appreciate the differences in others and I respect them and only care what kind of person stands in front of me.
I am so lucky. Some might say privileged. I am a white woman. I have had access to good education. I have a healthy family. And while I do not worry about food or keeping the lights on, I have in the past. I might have privilege, but have always worked hard and have no feelings of entitlement.
Besides being a white woman, I am Jewish. And, shockingly, there is still a lot of hate out there for Jews. Thing is, you can’t tell by looking at me that I am Jewish….so, that allows me the ability to generally stay out of the way of haters.
I do remember in 3rd grade my dear friend told me she could not come over and play at my house because I was Jewish. I was devastated. Never had I heard of any such thing before towards me or anyone else. Up until that time pretty much everyone I knew was Jewish. I had yet to hear about The Holocaust so I thought it was just me. Ironically, years later in high school this same girl started dating a Jewish boy I knew! Turns out we can all grow up and learn.
My elementary school was a college prep school in Cincinnati. I was lucky enough to attend school with kids from a wide variety of socio economic backgrounds, kids of color and kids with different religions….not to mention a whole classroom of deaf students. Our city has had, over the years, some tough moments with race riots…but back in those days and with the lessons my parents taught me…all I saw were good people and not so good people. It never crossed my mind to differentiate in any other way.
Throughout my years I have had the pleasure of surrounding myself with a variety of people. People from all over the world. People with different religious beliefs and people with different colored skin than my own. I have had the honor of being surrounded by a wonderful community of intelligent, caring, well traveled people.
I say all of this as a pre cursor to my apology. So you can understand me. So you can understand why I thought none of this could be directed at me. And how wrong I was.
While I have, to the best of my ability, always treated everyone as equally as I can, I am able to now see that might have been my greatest failure in all of this. I have been tone deaf to the fears and anxieties of my black friends and friends of color. I was told many years ago by Latino friends that racial profiling was a real thing. I shut them down thinking people were just intrigued, not suspicious. Turns out I was very wrong. And I am sorry. I apologize that I was unable to differentiate between us. Unable to see that while we have so many shared and wonderful experiences as humans there are some experiences that I will never understand. Just as someone might not be able to understand my feelings when 20 years ago someone actually told me I was their first Jewish person they had met and did I really have a tail? Or, when I sent my daughter back off to her home in Austin after quarantine, driving alone. A single woman. The anxiety I felt that she would be vulnerable to predators. The sadness I feel that so many people, black people, feel these same types of emotions and fears daily is gut wrenching and impossible to comprehend.
I can not possibly understand that the very people white parents teach their kids to go to for protection can be the very people that black parents teach their children to be cautious of.
So many of us try every day to be good people and to lead by example. Most of us relish good relationships with people of every color. Most of us will still @#$% up and say the wrong thing. Most of us however, will still speak up if and when we see any injustice occurring.
I look forward to rolling up our sleeves and starting the real dialogue. The dialogue that brings us all together in education and understanding that effects real change. The individual changes, corporate changes, the changes to the system. I hope we don’t make knee jerk changes to “try” and be better. I want real and well thought out changes that we can stand behind and that makes us as good as we all think we are.
I want to know what to do everyday to be better.
And I want to be as good as I think I am.
But truly, how do we make our education system more fair and equitable among our communities? There should not be such a visible difference of offerings by zip code. How do we ensure digital equity across our cities and states? How do we change the training and maintenance of our police officers? Are there term limits for being a police officer? How do we train and educate our young people to not carry hate?
I do know I look forward to being able to use my voice with my vote.Voting, in my mind, is a very good big step.
As I end, I end with an apology.
I am sorry.
I also say that I am here and I am ready to hear.
And, the link below is to a song called Oseh Shalom, a song we sing every Shabbat usually after our Mourner’s Kaddish, a prayer used for remembrance of those who have passed on or are in need. The translation of the song is:” He who makes peace in high places, He will make peace for us, And for all Israel, And let us say, Amen.“
I wish peace and understanding to all those suffering. And, Black Lives Matter today and every day.