Jigaboo. That was my mother’s word for black people. At a young age, I questioned this. I’m talking six or seven years old. She would respond that my father had once employed a black man, so I had no ground upon which to stand. Rural Virginia in the 1970s.

I’m a passing white woman. My heritage is English/Irish/Scottish/Swedish/Cherokee/Russian Jew. Heavy on the Cherokee and dark Jew. My skin is dark olive, my eyes are deep brown, and my hair is the darkest brown with red highlights. My nose is awkward. And I have freckles. Oy vey…

My poor mother would have had kittens when I started attending Mount Zion First African Baptist Church. And loving it.

I sometimes wear yoga pants. Rarely do I do so outside of my home or for exercise. But I see the real yoga pants women every day. I live with one.

She’s a great person. She works to give comfort to foster children and seniors. She hopes to open a healing trauma center. But she thinks that the reason she couldn’t take her dog into a food service establishment is because the proprietor was black, not because of food safety. She diligently watches for nefarious activities in the neighborhood.

That’s her. What about me?

In my blood, I’m Jewish. When I was six years old and learned to write, I would carefully write out “g-d.” My mother would tell me to put in the “o”, but I fought her.

As time went by, I found a home in theater. All of the exercises that they taught were yogic or of Eastern philosophies.

All of the three Abrahamic religions teach separation. Cheeseburger? Not a Jew. BBQ? Not Muslim or Jewish. How should any of us survive in an American public school?

Which brings me back to my beautiful brown brothers and sisters. I could kind of hide. You can’t. I see you. I hear you. I can never understand you, because my reality is so different. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to.

Tell your story. Quietly or loudly, tell your story. The oppression I have felt is, honestly, literally nothing — nothing compared to what you face daily.

I’m with you and I’ll do what I can.