Today's lesson, Racism. If you see something written here that you’ve said or done, use it as an opportunity. Take it as a wake up call and make the decision to grow, change and be conscious of your own privilege. Remember, I am not a speaker for the entirety of a people.
I remember studying about the Holocaust in High School. It felt like we covered everything that could have possibly been covered. We learned about the reasons why Hitler did the things he did. What those things were and what he was trying to accomplish. We learned about the Jewish prisoners. Those that tried to escape. Those that didn’t succeed. Those that thought it wasn’t going to amount to anything and those that ended up in concentration camps. We learned about those camps. The horrible things that happened there. The gas chambers, the experiments, the out right de-humanization just for the sheer joy of it. We learned so much. So many details. All horrific.
At the end of the six week period, we took a trip to the Holocaust Museum. There were actual survivor there. They were so kind in telling their stories. You could still see the numbers that were tattooed on them while in the concentration camp.
It was heartbreaking. It was upsetting. It was unsettling. After talking about the holocaust for six weeks prior, there wasn’t much that I expected to be shocked by when we went to the museum.
There was. There was something.
Jews weren’t the only target of Hitler. Yes, they were the only one’s we learned about. They were the only one’s talked about. They are the only one’s brought up when people talk about the Holocaust.
There was a room at the museum. It was filled with pictures. Pictures of black faces. An entire room dedicated to those we don’t talk about. Those that are not considered “Part of the tragedy.” The forgotten, never talked about…those.
Not once, not one single time did it occurs to me that it was anyone other than Jewish people who were affected by this sick situation. Why would it? What reason did I have to ever think it happened to anyone but Jewish people?
My Mother went on this trip with us as a chaperone. She was with me when I walked into this room. I said, out loud “There were black people there too?”
She looked sad. She said yes and nothing else. To this day, I have no idea what my Mother was thinking. I just remember the look on her face. I remember how I felt. I remember the hurt but also the anger of not knowing. Spending six full weeks on this and not knowing.
I am telling you this for one reason. Not to make it seem like the black people (or any brown people for that matter) were somehow different or in need of more attention than the Jewish people. I tell you this because yesterday, just yesterday I saw someone justifying their racism by saying that their family was in a concentration camp. If this is your argument to justify racism, my argument is that…my ancestors were there too. My argument is that, both of our ancestors were there but now, you and only you are saying racist things against someone. Our ancestors cancel each other out and lead us back to today. Today. Right now, this second when you are being racist.