We moved to the "country," Massapequa, on Long Island, where all my formidable growing up really happened. Massapequa was often called Matzoh-Pizza back then due to the large Jewish and Italian population. I was a half Irish mutt.
My graduating class of over 600 students had less than ten black kids.
With that said, I was raised color blind. My parents taught us from birth, we all bleed red, and that's all that matters.
I learned LOVE WINS way before Glennon Doyle Melton coined that as her own phrase.
I was brought to rally's of every kind. I was taught chants to shout during boycotts. I went to every church denomination in order to experience faith at a gut level.
When I was a young teenager, one of my friends made the ginormous mistake of saying the "N" word at my dinner table. My father didn't say a lot to our friends, but I can assure you THAT day, my dad let this kid know that was UNACCEPTABLE in our home.
I didn't experience or participate in racial prejudice except to fight against it. I confess to having prejudices against morons and people who refuse to use their directional signal. I once pondered if we were all blind, color would have no meaning. Smell probably would. Vocal tones probably would. The texture of clothes probably would.
I am privileged.
I was born a white female in 1961.
I have never had racial slurs yelled at me.
I will never have a black son. I will never have to wonder if I am being pulled over because of the color of my skin; I can assure you it will because I was speeding.
I have worked with men and women of every color, religion and sexual preference.
I have had but a handful of black friends. I live in a predominately white community. My friend Leigh is a woman of color. She is my "go to" woman when it comes to Girl Scout issues, dance discussions, college angst, the fact that our dogs are litter mates and equally fabulous and dumb at same time. I know she is black. From my side of the the relationship, it has never been an issue, because she is and always has been, Leigh to me. Soccer sideline mama. The woman whose kitchen I was sitting in when the first drafts of TGHR logo were produced. My friend.
She posts inspiring FB posts that MAKE ME THINK. I like to read diverse opinions on a myriad of thoughts. I disdain blanket statements. I have a very hard time when others chose a stand based on political party lines, because at this point in time, politics is a free for all horror show. And that includes Olivia Pope, thank you very much.
Fuck fifty shades of gray. We are one million shades of human.
At one point I lived in Edison, NJ. My absolute dearest friend was Sharon.
She and her then husband Leo were a young, gorgeous couple with a baby girl. Sharon described their skin colors to me. Sharon's was "espresso bean black," Leo's was, "light cappuccino," and baby Jenna was as dark as her mama.
The more I got to know them, the more I loved them. THE PEOPLE. I still have Sharon's mama's "Shirley Chops" recipe in my binder, and I have a shirt Leo gave me a hundred years ago that is oh, so, tattered.
Both Sharon and Leo were professionals who dressed to the nines. Leo was a buyer at the time for Ralph Lauren. It was stepping stone to many more lucrative jobs in the fashion industry. He wore exquisite suits.
I will never forget the story Sharon shared with me when Leo, in an overcoat, with a Coach briefcase, shoes shined so bright you could see your reflection in them, and Sharon, dressed in heels, an overcoat, stunning make-up, asked someone for the time. The person on the street they asked backed away. Leo had a presence. He, a 6'4", shaved head black man, and his tall wife asked the time and the person they asked was frightened.
I repeat. I was born a white girl. I have never experienced this.
When she became pregnant with her second child, the obvious truth was there was a 50-50 chance the baby could be a boy. And as the mama of a black son, Sharon was scared for a kid who wasn't even born yet.
Max was born. A beautiful, amazing, wondrous son. And she was worried and concerned and he was one hour old.
I ask all my white friends to think about if you were ever scared for your child before your child was even born because of their skin color? I doubt it.
Sharon and I lost touch over the years. (While I was writing this I tried to search her out on FB and couldn't find her.) But her stories (this is but one) have stayed with me for close to thirty years.
I managed an office in NYC and most of the women who worked for us (an additional three other managers, the one other woman was black) at that particular location were all black. I think we had close to 40 employees working in that department. They taught me a lot about being mom's to black sons. They taught me about being mom's to black girls. They taught me about being daughters, wives and sisters in a black family. Mostly, though, they taught me to LISTEN. When I left they gave me a Coach bag. A sumptuous, caramel colored, leather bag I used with pride and fabulous memories until it basically disintegrated.
When I worked in White Plains, I had one black woman working for me among a whole lot of older Irish moms, and she taught me a few assorted quirky things I don't dare share here.
And so, again I state the obvious, I am white.
My uncle was a NYC cop. It is a one time thing, we don't have generations of cops.
When the Ferguson story was all over my newsfeed I felt a survivors guilt. I felt the same way with Trayvon Martin. I felt the same way about Dillon Taylor. I feel the same about Eric Garner.
I personally don't know ONE person who was AT the scene of any of these events.
I can read the millions of words written about these cases and more. I can read the posts on FB from law enforcement people. I can read the blogs that make you sit and think. Benjamin Watson's FB post is profound. (read it HERE) The interview with Chris Rock in New York magazine is brilliant. (read it HERE) Charles Barkley has been equally vocal. (read some of it HERE)
But at no point do I feel I know "the truth" about any of these cases because the truth is so mired in media bullshit.
And also, you know, I wasn't there.
What I DO believe is perhaps naive, coupled with a rose colored glasses approach to life.
There are people who will always stir the pot. There are people who will always believe in only black and white answers. There are people who will do horrible, horrific things. There are thugs. There are thieves. There are heroes. There are angels.
None of these people are a particular color.
We are taught hatred, and bias, and how to be a criminal from other criminals. We are taught love and kindness and compassion from other like minded people. Children are colorblind until someone truly points it out to them.
As a HUMAN race we have GOT to take many long minutes to breathe. To stop being afraid.
Fear is what incites anger.
It can also incite peace.
May all of our collective fears start working to bring about some peace. Some dialog. Some COMPASSION.
It is my single greatest hope for our future.
Bring them to their knees
We can bomb the world to pieces
But we can't bomb it into peace