Holding a Book, Having a Disability, Having a car breakdown – while being Black

By Jane Fischberg September 22, 2016

Recently I have been silent on police killings of people who are black, because I could not come up with anything unique or helpful to add to the discourse on social media -- posts, blogs, articles, many of which are more articulate than I could hope to be.  I didn’t want to be sanctimonious, redundant.  Nor did I wish to inadvertently disrespect the dignity of each life lost, each unique soul who was gunned done by those charged with protecting public safety.

Just as we hear or read the details of one death and see a new hashtag, we hear of yet another brutal killing.

I cannot speak with the righteous anger of my black friends and colleagues so I try to find my own voice. I try to imagine what it would be like if people who look like me were gunned down on a daily basis while carrying on the business of their lives. I could invoke the purge and genocide of Jews during the Holocaust.  And I don’t wish to lessen the dignity of those 6 million lives lost, nor deny history, nor say that one genocide is more important than another.  My family was lucky – we made it to the US in the late decade of the 19th century and early decades of the 20th.  I pay homage to my ancestors, and their brethren who were not so lucky.

Never again, we say.

Genocide happened, and is happening again here.  If our nation’s Original Sin was genocide of Native Americans, then the legacy of slavery is our Second Sin. 

I try to imagine -- and I keep coming back to what it must have been like when white slave owners sought to recapture slaves who had escaped in search of a free life.  I have been reading Homegoing and I reflect on the relationship between our nation’s Second Sin and what is happening in our world today.  I think of Ness and Sam’s escape, capture, the brutal punishment they both received -- and Sam’s fate. 

We cannot distance ourselves from this traumatic legacy

So, as a white person, what can I do?  Here is what Derrick Weston says:

1. Don’t Silence Us
2. Confession
3. Use your privilege for good
4. Amplify black voices
5. Transfer resources

Wise words.

Read Weston's full post>>