I am a writer and a Mommy. I am a devout Jew. These are the most important books I have read: The Tao te Ching by Lao Tzu, Stephen Mitchell translation. Spiritual Divorce by Debbie Ford. Living Inspired by Akiva Tatz. My kitchen would suggest I'm a closet carny, as would my love of Branson.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Black Lives Matter

I'll begin at the end.

We must stop identifying each other by the color of our skin.

This is the color white
This is the color black

People do not have white colored skin and people do not have black colored skin.  

So let's agree that these words are factually wrong and let's stop using them.

You can't have a thought without words.  Words create your thoughts and therefore the reality that you experience.

Since I was taught from birth to identify people as different races, I see people with a different shade of skin from mine as other.   

I can't stop this.  I can't erase the words that are in my vocabulary and that I think when I encounter people.  These words inform me about who is not like me, who is not in my group.

But I can change this for the future.  When I had children I decided never to use skin color or "race" to describe people.  They never heard people described by the color of their skin until they went to school.  I saw proof of how profoundly the absence of racist language impacted the way a child sees the world, time and again.  I saw my kids describe people by their clothes, hairstyle or actions but never by the color of their skin because this was never modeled for them and they had no language to do it.

Don't let people identify you by the tint of your flesh.  Don't answer people who ask you to identify yourself by race.  

No one wants to be identified by their physical characteristics.   I don't want to be talked about as the "short American."    I don't like blonde jokes.  I don't want to be labeled and categorized by the way I look.   I hear someone described on the radio as an "African-American" man and I think of someone describing me as frizzy-haired, Jewish-American woman.  No!  It's preposterous.  

Words have power.  Use your language carefully.    Do not perpetuate racism by speaking its language.  

The Black Lives Matter movement is waking people up because this phrase inadvertently conjures how wrong it is call people white or black.  And it reminds us all how wrong it is for people to feel afraid because of the way they look.  

If you don't like the idea that black lives matter please read Between the World and Me.     

Or, if you don't want to read a book, just think about this.  If you don't understand why there is a Black Lives Matter movement, then the answer is to try to understand.  Look into it.  Find out what is going on.  

Recognize that you have never needed to cry out to the world around you to proclaim that your life matters.  Unless someone has beat you and abused you.  And then maybe you had to find a voice to say that your life matters.  

There are people in the United States who have suffered here for hundreds of years and they still suffer because they are seen as "black."  This is what Black Lives Matter means.      

What I love most about the United States is the freedom we have.  We have innumerable diverse cultures and communities and we are tremendously different from one another.  Here we are free to be as we are.  We enjoy all the flavors of the cultures we have in this great nation.  We have freedom but we struggle to have equality.

The path to ending racism is quiet and subtle.  We change our thoughts by changing our words.

We have to listen to each other and hear when someone is hurting and be honest about why.  We have to hear people when they say black lives matter.  It isn't random or hateful or racist.  It's a pained cry for equality and for an end to abuse and each of us must answer this cry by seeking to understand it and then saying yes black lives do matter and we have to mean it.

We must also stop labeling ourselves by the shades of our hides and we must reject the idea that our body informs which group we belong to.

We can do this quietly with our own speech and our own individual commitment to end the use of language that creates racist thought.

No comments: