Speaking Out - Talking With - Not At

It is easy today to talk with those I am comfortable with about the inanities of he who I will not name.  Whether it is the latest gaffe or speaking of his racism, sexism, lies or whatever, it doesn't take much to find common ground with many people around me, whether friends or those I don't know.

It can be harder for me to speak out when I should.

Perhaps eight years ago while walking our dog, I came upon a strange neighbor who was then in his late 80's.   He angered some - for example - moving the large bin of lawn waste of a lady of perhaps 80 away from her curb leaving it directly in front of her house.   It wasn't pick-up day and "didn't belong at the curb".    Someone had helped her putting it at the curb.   It was too heavy for her to comfortably move.

He asked me about the sale of the house across the street from us.    It was apparent from his words, that he wanted to know if the new neighbors were going to be White folks.  I was uncomfortable with his words.   He shocked me then telling me that he liked the Color of my car; "N-word Black".

I was stunned.   My reaction was to walk away from this man - and not say anything.

When I got home, I told B - what had happened.   Her immediate reaction was to ask What I had done to confront the Racist words of the neighbor.    I admitted to her that my reaction had been inappropriate.   I went back to speak to him later.

I told the man that what he had said offended me and was wrong.  I told him that it particularly bothered me because my wife was Black.    He apologized, but it was apparent to me that this man would need hundreds of others speaking out to him before he might possibly change.

It is much harder to work - reaching out to those who support he who will not be named,  listening to their concerns and to discuss how we can have a safer, fairer world without offensive words and behavior.   I have faced fellow Jews discomfort when I talk of how Palestinians deserve our respect and support for many years.   I remember writing to the Israeli Counsulate in San Franciso - circa 1987 - and being told that I was hearing "Arab propaganda".   It was and is harder for me to face some I care about - living in a world I do not see where we Jews face another Holocaust if we affirm the injustices of Zionism over many decades and are "the oppressed". 

Currently - racism - seems most substantial around me.   We face both the blatant and sometimes more subtle words and actions against Black Men (and Women) as well as the scapegoating of Latino people and the Muslimphobia around us.

I think that we help silence - those who support the hatred - by not being actively engaged in listening and speaking out in ways that help, rather than perpetuating the divides that we face.   While those who oppose us are sometimes "working class" and "oppressed", far more commonly they are representing power and oppressiveness masked as being that which they are not.   We need to reach people who hear their language - and latch onto it, despite the obvious fact that they are Hurt by the actions of those wrongly speaking in their name.

It is wrong when we as Men- are generally silent, while women move forward trying to end a world of sexist, violent oppression  - that isn't "Our Issue".    It is wrong - when Racism - Police killings and other mistreatment of young, and not so young Black (usually) Men - is Not Our Issue.

We need to do a better job getting involved and speaking out.   We need to see how We have supported and continue to Support Oppression around us.   We need to reach and develop More allies so that the hatred will not and can not continue.  


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