There are some topics that are hard to talk about, regardless of how the conversation is couched. Race is one of them.
Ijeoma Oluo‘s new non-fiction book was published last year. Entitled So You Want to Talk about Race, the book takes on a subject that is necessary to talk about, but not easy. Speaking to both Caucasian readers and readers of color, the book helps to pave the way to open doors, open minds, and most of all, create necessary change.
This is one of those books that I think we all should read. We all know that in 2020, we are at a precipice when it comes to race and race relations. This book allows us as a society to finally do what we must and move forward from our racist and ugly past.
Since we were children, Americans have been taught that we are a nation made up different people. But the one thing that binds us all together is that we are American.
As pretty as that statement is, it is a pipe dream, even in 2020. Racism and xenophobia still rule the day. It does not help when we have a President whose policies and beliefs essentially come down to one statement “whites only“.
Though he may deny it or walk about what he has said, there is no denying that his man is a racist.
The question is do we want a President for another four years who believes in “whites only?”
If nothing else, the summer of 2020 will be known for the murders of innocent African-American men and women. It is not a distinction to be proud of. Though this is nothing new for Americans of color, the difference is that the country is waking up and taking notice.
Back in March, Daniel Prude was found naked on the streets of Rochester in upstate New York. As the story usually goes, Mr. Prude was restrained by the police to the point of where he lost consciousness. He died a week later.
But there is more to this story that the standard accusation of police brutality. The issue of mental illness also comes into play. The police were initially called because Joe Prude, Daniel’s brother called 911, worried about his brother who had just walked out of the house.
I wish I could say that this will be the last incident of this kind. But we all know that until we deal with racism as a whole, Mr. Prude will be just another name on a long list of Americans of color killed by police.
Whether we know it or not, we often look to celebrities as examples of how to behave or not behave.
Since May, when George Floyd was murdered, protests have exploded all over the country. Across Hollywood and the sports world, celebrities have stepped up in the name of justice and equality.
With the shooting of Jacob Blake last weekend, America was again reminded that police still single out Americans of color. In response, several NBA teams have chosen to strike. Jared Kusher, sticking his nose in where it did not belong, claimed that they were “taking the night off“.
The full quote is as follows:
“The NBA players are very fortunate that they have the financial position where they’re able to take a night off from work without having to have the consequences to themselves financially.”
While it is true that they will still earn their salaries, this strike is not about money. It is about racial inequity and violence that still exists in the United States. These players are using their platform to take a stand and send a message.
Not that Kushner or anyone around him would be able to understand that message.
When it comes to our children, we are taught that we should model the behavior that we want them to emulate.
If that is the case, then I wonder what the children of the Jacob Blake have learned. On Sunday afternoon, Mr. Blake, an unarmed African-American man, was shot by police. They shot him in front of his three children as they sat in the family car. The children are all under the age of ten.
As of yesterday, Mr. Blake was still in intensive care.
I have to wonder what message this sends not only to his children, but to everyone’s children? That people of color, especially African-American men and women, are automatically suspicious because of their skin color?
This summer has been one of upheaval, to say the least. Between the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, protests have been happening non stop. The message should be loud and clear. Law enforcement does not have the carte blanche right to arrest and kill simply because the assumed perpetrator has dark skin.
My prayer is two fold. The first half is that Mr. Blake wakes up and returns home as physically and emotionally whole as possible. The second half is that his children are do not grow up with the emotional scars that come with what they witnessed.
When the Internet and social media took off decades ago, they both seemed to be a beacon of freedom of speech and communication. We would speak to and (virtually) meet people who we might otherwise not meet and become a better world.
But while the technology has changed, the world has not.
While the social media giants claim that they are all for freedom of expression, they continue to ignore the elephant in the room. That elephant is racism and antisemitism that continually flows from various tweets and posts.
Twitter, while claiming that hate speech is not allowed on the platform, does not prevent Iranian officials from threatening Israel with annihilation via tweets.
I wish it was easy to remove ourselves from social media. But, they are so much of a part of lives that to do so would be akin to cutting off a limb. The only solution is that the people who run the social media platforms follow through on their terms of service. The question is, will they?
Antisemitism is a disease. How does one route out a disease from one’s body? You hit with medicine. In this case, the medicine is truth and the power of the average person.
In response to the antisemitic posts appearing on Twitter and Instagram, a boycott has been called on both platforms for 48 hours starting this morning.
There is a distinct line between freedom of speech and spewing hate. Until the people who run the social media world realize this and follow the rules they created, they will be as guilty as the ones who spew racist and antisemitic lies.
I know that this boycott will be difficult. But if we do not move forward with the boycott, the message that racism and antisemitism is acceptable will continue it’s destructive grasp on this world.
Racism of any kind is a disease. It blinds us to see the humanity of others, forcing us to judge someone solely on one aspect of their character or identity.
Over the last week or so, there have been headlines that state that certain African-American celebrities using their platform to spout antisemitic lies. One of these celebrities in Nick Cannon.
I have two very specific thoughts about this topic, which is making my stomach turn.
The first is that the people who are spouting these lies are ignorant. They aren’t stupid, but they are ignorant. One does not have the career longevity in Hollywood that Cannon has by being stupid.
What is sadly sometimes forgotten is that American Jews worked hand in hand with African-Americans in the fight for equality during the Civil Rights era. I wish Cannon and those who think like him would have done their research before opening their mouths or going to their keyboards.
The second is that we have a common enemy. They are called the alt-right. In their ideal world, America is a Christian, Caucasian, and Heterosexual nation. Anyone who does not fit into those categories is therefore, not allowed to be an American.
If America is to become the ideals written down in our founding documents, we have to put our differences aside and remember what we have in common. If we don’t, then we will never become what we say we are.
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.