The first step in solving a problem is admitting that there is one to begin with. But that is sometimes easier said than done.
The United States has had a problem called racism for 400 years. Politically and culturally, we have done some work to write the wrongs of the past. But that work is only a drop in the bucket compared to what has yet to be done.
It is nearly a month since George Floyd was murdered. Since then, Americans have protested his unnecessary death and the structural racism that is part of this country’s DNA.
Across the nation, there have been calls to remove statues and rename buildings that memorialize those who were responsible for the enslavement and subjugation of Americans of color. In my neck of the woods (aka New York City), the Teddy Roosevelt statue that greets visitors to the American Museum of Natural History will soon be non-existent.
Some say that this is going too far. There are other ways to redeem our past other than tearing down these monuments to history. If we take down statues of men like Robert E. Lee, we must take down statues of our Founding Fathers, who also owned slaves.
As Ticked Off Vic says, there is a difference between Robert E. Lee and our Founding Fathers. While these were men of their time, there is a marked difference between their actions. The fact is statues and images speak volumes in ways that words cannot touch. If we are to move forward as a country, we must face up to our past and take some of these statues down. If we don’t, we will never be able to move forward as a nation.
I think it is pretty safe to say that in the nearly three weeks since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, the world has changed. Across the globe, millions are making their voices heard. George Floyd was one man, but he has come to stand for those who have been killed by hate.
Yesterday would have been Anne Frank‘s 91st birthday. Her diary has been ready by millions of readers over the last 70ish years. Like George Floyd, she has become a symbol of a life cute short by hate.
I keep thinking that if the world had collectively protested in the 1930’s as they do now, would the Holocaust have happened? How many might have survived? Unfortunately, this question can never be answered.
I wish that we lived in a world in which our rights were immediately given to us at birth. I wish that we were not categorized and then based on that category, denied or approved for where we may end up in life. But that is the world we live in. But until that day in which that happens, we must continue to stand up and fight for those rights.
When George Floyd was murdered two weeks ago, it was more than the taking of a life. His death is sadly the personification of everything the things that humanity needs to fix.
That being said, there is a difference between protesting injustice and taking advantage to promote one’s personal crusade.
The most recent Palestinian lie is to link their “cause” to George Floyd and the protests that have erupted around the world in the last two weeks.
If there was a legit issue, that would be one thing. Not that everything the IDF or the Israeli government does is perfect. But they have at least attempted to live in peace with their neighbors. I cannot say the same for the Palestinians.
What happened to George Floyd, I would not wish on anyone. I would also not wish for his memory to be co-opted for a deliberately created falsehood.
It has been said that until one has walked a mile in another’s shoes, one can never truly understand the other person. But that does not mean that we can’t at least try to understand another person’s perspective.
We live in a country in which one’s skin color is one of the factors that determines one’s fate. We also live in a country in which unconscious bias and white privilege also play a role in determining one’s fate. As a Caucasian woman of Eastern European Jewish descent, I’ve never thought about the privilege automatically assigned to me because of my skin color. The last few weeks have made it painfully clear that because of a twist of fate, I have access and a perception that is denied to Americans of color.
Because I do not have the first person experience that a person of color has, I will not even try to speak of that experience. But Trevor Noah has that experience and it is heartbreaking.
I would say that I hope (which often springs eternal) that we, as Americans have finally learned our lesson about racism and racial inequality. But the last few weeks have reminded this nation, in a painful way, that both are still alive and well, even in 2020.
America is built on the ideals of freedom. But this ideal has a flaw. The flaw is called racism.
Like many problems, racism can only be solved we are able to look it in the eyes and admit that it is an issue. But after 400 years of built in prejudice against Americans of color, this problem may not be so simple to resolve.
On Monday, bird enthusiast Christian Cooper was walking through Central Park. He noticed that Amy Cooper had let her dog off the leash an in area in which dogs are required to remain on leash. Christian is African-American, Amy is Caucasian. Her response to his reminder of keeping her dog on the leash was to call the police.
After millions of views online, the video reached the eyes and ears of Amy’s bosses. She is no longer employed and she is known as a racist. Good luck to her on finding another job.
Also on Monday, in Minneapolis, George Floyd was arrested by police, accused of forgery. Instead of just taking him to the precinct and letting the justice system do it’s job, one of the officers put his knee on Floyd’s neck. After several minutes of complaining that he could not breath, Floyd took his last breath. The officers were fired for their actions. But firing is not enough. The officer who held Floyd down should be tried for murder.
The difference (as I see it) is how both cases were handled. Amy Cooper got what was coming to her. The officer who killed George Floyd has yet to receive what is coming to him.
May the memory of George Floyd be a blessing to those who knew and loved him. RIP.
As much as we wish it, families are far from perfect. There are secrets, scandals, and sins that have a way of passing down through the generations.
Sarah Blake’s new novel, The Guest Book, was published earlier this year. In the 1930s, Kitty and Ogden Milton have it all. A loving marriage, beautiful and thriving children and the status that comes with being one of America’s leading (and wealthiest) families. Then tragedy hits the family hard. To assuage his wife’s grief, Ogden buys a private island to use as a summer home. The island should be a place of refuge and relaxation for the Miltons. Instead, it becomes a symbol of the family’s secrets.
The secret starts with a refusal that could have saved the life of an innocent just before World War II. Twenty plus years later, the secret grows. Len Levy and Reg Paulding are not the usual guests invited to the island. Len is Jewish and secretly seeing one of the Milton daughters. Reg is African-American and the lone person of color in his world.
The secrets begin to unravel in the 2010s. Evie Milton, one of Kitty and Ogden’s granddaughters, comes to the realization with her cousins that the island is in dire financial straits. She also learns, with the help of her husband, that the family secrets are just below the surface. With a little digging, those secrets are revealed.
What I liked about this book was how Ms. Blake established the world that this novel is set in and the casual racism/antisemitism that is part of this world. I also liked the transition from the past to the present. It takes a skilled author to jump from different time periods and different points of view in a way that does not confuse the reader.
My problem with the book is that the ending is kind of expected. The big bombshell that is supposed to be the “long-buried” secret is not really a bombshell. I saw part of it coming nearly a mile away.
Last Thursday, two men entered a Starbucks location in Philadelphia. They were waiting for a third man to discuss a business deal. They sit down at a couple of benches and kill time by looking a their phones. They are bothering no one.
The next thing they know, they are arrested for trespassing.
This story makes me sick to my stomach. These men were not making trouble. They were merely waiting for the person who they were going to discuss the business deal with. While one could argue that they did not buy anything, I find that argument ridiculous. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve stopped in Starbucks without buying anything. I’ve also used the bathroom without buying anything. I was not harassed nor was I arrested.
I don’t blame the police, they were merely doing their job. Even though, one could argue that the arresting officers could have been not so quick to put the handcuffs on the men and do a little more digging. I blame the manager who called the police.
I’d like to hope that in 2018, we live in a post racial world. We judge others, especially minorities, as Martin Luther King Jr. said “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”. But hope often springs eternal, so unfortunately does racism.