Hi Lisa, and thank you for writing a very well thought out post.
I am speaking to you as a woman, a white Jew, of Polish and Italian heritage. My mother was from Italy. My father (born in 1936), was the first of his family born on American soil. This, so you know who and what I am.
I’m going to give you a suggestion. You may or may not be thrilled, but you strike me as a reasonable, intelligent, thoughtful woman, so I’ll take that chance.
White people DO understand. Okay, maybe not all of them, definitely not some of them. But those with empathy and intelligence get it. Really.
The problem? We speak it, but you don’t hear it. You are a scholar of languages. You should get what I’m saying. There is a communications problem, which leads to a volume problem. We are told ‘you don’t/can’t/won’t stand for us because you don’t get us’ but trust me — we do. We are just speaking white, because that is what we know. And you are not hearing black, which is what you know.
In Portland, Oregon, I watched, thrilled, as thousands of people, young and old, a kaleidoscope of colours and faiths and ages, with signs and chants and anger for miles, marched thru the streets in defiance of the travesty of the election. TOGETHER. As one living, breathing, tearful and angry organism, tired of the hate, of the senselessness of racism, of the ignorance.
And still blacks and Muslims complained about white people being in those marches. Can we stand with you, in our way, while you stand with us, in your way? Or do we give that thing what it wants, what it worked to create, a divide so great mere words will never throw a lifeline across it?
White people HAVE written love letters (I like that, BTW). White people HAVE stood up for you, with you, regardless of the consequences.
What more must we do, my sister? What would make you see what we are doing? Where is the disconnect?
As one who’s relatives were forced to dig their own graves, then lined up on the edges and murdered, I could, and have, asked the same of you and everyone else in the world. The entire world knew what the Nazis were doing, yet no one spoke for us. No one stood up for us. No one stopped the trains from rolling through the gates of Dachau, Treblinka, and dozens of other death camps. And yet, we ask no one to feel our pain, to know our suffering. It’s not possible for anyone else to know or understand. And that’s okay. We just accept that people will stand with us, in their own way, and we are okay with that.
I speak these words not to hurt, or malign, but to ask that you try to understand. WE ARE WITH YOU. We are not against you. Please let us be there in our way.
Peace in, Lisa.