I can't stop thinking about this.
What can I do -- one person, one white woman who lives comfortably, rarely confronted by racial problems in my daily life? What do I know of prejudice, bias, hatred, violence, fear? I don't have to worry about my son being assaulted on the street. I don't have to consider that my daughter will be turned down for a job simply because of her skin color. I don't know about these things, personally.
And yet -- in a way -- feeling different and looked down upon by others is something I know deep in my bones because I'm Jewish. There have been a few, rare instances when I have felt the "otherness" that most African-Americans must feel on a frequent basis. The history of the Jewish people is in me, part of who I am.
I want to help. I want to do something to change the world. Where do I start? What can I say?
I can start here. I'm so upset about what happened in Charleston. That young man, the one who shot those beautiful people in that church -- he had to learn that kind of hatred somewhere. Someone had to tell him that he was better than African-Americans, better than Muslims, better than (I'm certain) Jews. I can't believe this is still going on.
I wonder if racists are angrier than ever because our president is African-American. Or maybe because some of the most influential and powerful people in our country, musicians and actors and comedians, authors and politicians -- are African-American. Do they feel threatened by the rise in mixed-race marriages and children who are neither white or black? What exactly do racists believe is wrong with everyone who isn't like them? Can someone explain that to me? Because I just don't get it.
We should start by taking down the Confederate flag everywhere it can be seen. As one of my African-American friends said on Facebook (and I paraphrase) -- "They don't fly a swastika flag over Germany." It's not about honoring the past, it's about respecting a group of people for whom that flag represents so many terrible things. We need to stop reminding African-Americans about the horrors they endured. For goodness sake.
We need to stop listening to garbage commentary from people who would have us believe that this was an act of violence against Christianity instead of an act of terrorism against African-Americans.
We need to stop assuming that we know who someone is based on the way they look -- be it their skin color or the clothing they are wearing.
We need to tell people who make racist, sexist and homophobic jokes that we will not tolerate their bad sense of humor. We need to stop perpetuating stereotypes with our words and actions. We need to not ignore the ignorant, but confront them instead.
(And also, we need to change the 2nd amendment. We need to take guns away from the general population.)
I'm not foolish. I realize that racism is never going to completely go away. Ignorance begets ignorance. Some people will never stop hating everyone who is different from them. I know that, as a Jewish person. African-Americans know that. But we have to do something. Incredibly, things are getting worse. We elected an African-American president. We seem to get it, on some level -- but then, there's Charleston.
I need your help. Tell me what to do. Tell me where to give my time, my money, my support. Tell me.