Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Racial Divide

If you know me, you probably know by now that I often process things by talking about them and by writing about them. I sometimes get really quiet first, and go within. But the need to let it out inevitably comes.

The problem this time is, that I have no answers. I don't know what to say. But I know that not saying anything, is NOT the answer. I am talking about the police shooting of Michael Brown and the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island and what is really a huge racial divide in our country.

Here is what I will say. I am so sad about what has happened. I am so, so sad about the very real possibility of it happening again, and that it could happen to someone I know and love. I am sad that people I know and love have to even think about this, ever.

Like many, I've been glued to my twitter feed and news outlets. My thoughts about this all have been a bit disjointed. Here are some of what I've been thinking...

1. Within the past year, I was out to breakfast with one of my besties. We were at a very well-known and loved establishment in my very liberal town. We had a delicious meal and great service. Our waitress was sweet and friendly. And when the bill came, it was placed in front of me. Not in the middle of the table, where there was plenty of room. Not in front of my friend. There was no question of who was paying this bill. And the waitress was dead-on wrong; my friend happened to be treating me that day. We both stared at it sitting in front of me for a moment, nodded our heads and acknowledged that we both saw the same thing.

2. The majority of my career, up to this point has been spent teaching young children, most of whom are minorities. I know that the children I taught in Newark, who are now turning 15, 16, and 17-years-old are at risk. They are at risk for a lot of things...drug abuse, gang violence, dropping out of school, and yes, for being targeted by the police. I took care of them like they were my own babies, and this hurts me.

3. Lilly does not see color in the way that the world does yet. I would like to preserve that as long as I can. She's 6. She may use it to describe a friend in the same way she uses hair color.  And that is it. She was describing her "crush" the first month of school. "His name is James. He is taller than me. He has short brown hair. He talks a lot. He's nice. He gave me this ring. (?!) He's an oldster. (a 2nd grader) His skin is brown. And his eyes are black." 

4. White privilege exists. I wish it didn't. I don't know what to do about it. But for my babies who I taught in Newark and Hoboken; my friends; my friend's children; my neighbors; Lilly's friends...I want to figure it out. How do we stop this?

What can we do? Talk about it, even if it is uncomfortable. Be respectful. Listen. Keep an open mind. Love. Because I still have hope that love wins.

What do YOU think we can or should do?