This is a tough letter to write. I have been struggling for days about what to say and how to say it. As a psychologist, I work hard to be respectful, ethical, moral and not allow my political views into my work with clients. However, in light of the recent events from Charlottesville from this weekend, I have decided to go ahead and share my perspective and my position.
As you may know, I am Jewish and grew up in a predominantly Jewish town in New York. I learned about the Holocaust as a child and teen, visited Israel and was horrified at the atrocities that were committed against not only the Jews but anyone who did not fit the Nazi’s view of worthy to live. I heard my first anti-Semitic jokes directed toward me and Jews in general when I got to college. I was fortunate to live a very sheltered life in this regard, experiencing bias and prejudice mostly through simulations during youth group, school, movies, and books. Brene Brown defined privilege in her Facebook Livestream earlier this week as unearned access. And although I am a Jewish woman (not a white Christian male) I have been afforded tremendous unearned privilege in my lifetime.
I recently read Jodi Picoult’s novel entitled “Small Great Things.” It is the story of an African American nurse and the white supremacist father. The story is alternately narrated by the nurse, father, and the nurse’s attorney. It was an eye opening journey into what it means to grow up in a culture of hate and discrimination from many perspectives. I don’t usually recommend novels, but this one had a profound and lasting impact on my life and world view.
So where do I stand? I stand with humanity, dignity, and acceptance regardless of race, skin color, religion, sexual preference or gender. This list could go on forever.
When I watch and listen to what is going on in our country (and the world), I can find myself in a place of fear, hopelessness and wanting to avoid saying or doing anything. But being silent is exactly the opposite of what is needed. We all need to be vocal about the importance of treating people like people. Everyone has a story, and we are far more alike than different. We need to stand together against racism, bigotry, and hatred in any form and on any level. This is not about politics. This is about the right way to treat other people.
You may be wondering how on earth to speak to your kids about what is going on. This is a tough one. It will depend on the ages and maturity levels of your children. Some will be interested in learning about this. Some will have scary thoughts. Some just won’t understand. Others will be enraged and empowered. Ideally, they will hear about what is going on from their parent or other safe adult with whom they can talk about their understanding and feelings.
Learn the facts yourself. Spend some time thinking about your feelings and what you want to impart to your children. Keep exposure to the news and images to a minimum as repeated exposure to this type of violence can be very disturbing and even traumatic. I thought it might be helpful to share a blog from earlier this year on talking with your kids about frightening events. Please let me know if I can help in any ways during this difficult time in our country.
Finally, I want to send my condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones this weekend. No parent should ever have to bury a child, and no person should have to protest against hate and bigotry – ever!
Sending you my very best wishes…