Facing Reality… Reflections from a White, Jewish man

I’m grateful for my father’s willingness to learn, to allow other perspectives into his world view, for having the courage to face shame and pain and being implicated in torture and violence while also keeping his eyes and heart towards healing and connection. He recently visited Montgomery, Alabama with Carolina Jews for Justice and below are his initial reflections. May we as white folks continue to do the work within ourselves, to save ourselves from white supremacy and the destructive habits of whiteness so that we can join with others around this globe to bring about liberation for all.

From my dad:
I just returned from Montgomery, Alabama where I spent two days visiting the Equal Justice Initiative ( The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice). I also toured The Rosa Parks Library and Museum, Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, Freedom Rider Museum and the Civil Rights Memorial Center sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

I have not yet had enough time to process all that I viewed or the impact on me. It was a powerful and overwhelming experience that has filled me with awe, disgust, shame, empathy and a brooding quest to understand how we humans can deliver, accept and view such cruelty over and over again throughout our existence. As much of my time was spent in silence the sounds of screams, torture and fear were everywhere. Yet throughout all this horror, in every site I visited there was also a message of hope. As white man, I cannot help but feel shame for the role my race has played in all the acts of brutal enslavement and terrorism. As a Jewish man, I understand these venues must exist and be viewed by as many people as possible so current and future generations will understand the atrocities we created through slavery and more importantly never forget. This being the same reasons, as Jews, that we have worked hard to sustain the memories of the horrors of the holocaust through museums, memorials and documentation.

I am not sure where all of this will take me, but I am sure that my trip has made an indelible stamp on my mind and soul that will never be removed. I need to find a way to ensure the message of that stamp does not fade away. These were acts of violence and inhumanity that have extended over a century past the Emancipation Proclamation and is still ever present in our country today. Again, as a white individual, I need to personally commit to reach inside and confront the impact of ‘white privilege” on my life and how it has fostered my views of this world. I also would like to discover ways to encourage other members of the “white silent majority” to realize that our racial privilege is real, even if unrecognized, and confronting it may be painful but ultimately it can create the beginnings of a long term healing.

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