Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A Glimmer of Hope on September 11

As I watched the Twin Towers fall from the my 6th Floor Seminar room in Dealy Hall at Fordham, I knew that our country would be tested as it never had been since the multiple crises of the 1960's
Would we come out of this terrible ordeal , which would include the deaths of friends, co-workers, and family members, with our hearts hardened to the suffering of those following different traditions than our own, or would we come out of it more open minded and compassionate?
The jury is still out on that issue. The unity that followed those awful events has dissipated, and we live in a country where many people are filled with rage, at war with their own neighbors, as well as people who do not think they way they do.
Yet all is not lost. We are not beyond redemption
So I ask this: :Let the heroism and unselfishness of so many people that day, of individuals not in uniform as well as first responders, offer a model of how we can be better than we ever thought possible, both as individuals as as a country
I honor my friends who died when the Towers collapsed, some of whom were fellow coaches in Brooklyn CYO basketball, but I also honor the transcendent possibilities of compassion and generosity that were revealed that day, and in the days that followed.
At a time when we see, on a daily basis, too many people drawing on their worst instincts,.let us find the best in ourselves the way so many people did on that tragic day
Peace to all.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

For Me, Fighting Racism is Personal

When I talk about fighting racism, it isn't abstract
I've seen what racists can do, up close and personal
When I was a senior in college, i was kicked out of my family for falling in love with a Black woman, an amazing person, with whom I shared six years of my life. My parents, Jewish liberals, great teachers both, never found it in their hearts to reach out to her. The poison of white supremacy had hardened them and shattered their capacity for compassion when it came to this critical juncture in their lives
In the early 70's, I had the pleasure of spending a month each summer in rural Alabama with a preacher named Rev Claude Williams who had decided to renounce segregation and try to organize southern blacks and whites into unions for their common economic betterment. For doing this, he had been beaten, tarred and feathered, expelled from his Church, had fires set on his property and had his dogs shot.
I came away from these experiences convinced that racism could make ordinarily decent, caring people cruel and heartless. I not only decided to spend my life studying it, but to use every power I had my disposal to fight it, and try to minimize its influence
This has been my life. It will be my life until I take my last breath

Monday, August 19, 2019

Don't Normalize Racism

If there was a piece of advice I would give to young people, it would be the following
Don’t normalize racism. Speak out against it and challenge it wherever you see it, whether it is in a classroom, a dormitory, a locker room or at your family dinner table. Do so with kindness when possible, but fierce determination when necessary. This country’s future depends on the best impulses of its people coming to the fore. This is something that has to be done every day, not just when there is an election. Be the moral compass your school, your community and your country desperately needs
Peace. The future is yours to shape and enjoy if you have the courage of your convictions

Friday, August 16, 2019

A Time For Heroism


There are historical moments when ordinary people are called upon to be heroes. This is one of them. It will require heroism to protect our most vulnerable people, who face the daunting prospect of being attacked by racist neighbors as well as the government. 

Will you be a hero?  Will you hear the cries of pain of those under attack?

The future of the nation depends on your answer

To respond to this challenge a group of educators around the nation have created a new organization that allows people to identify themselves as anti racist fighters who will come the defense of people under attack in their communities, workplaces, and schools. The organization is called NARA -the National Anti Racism Alliance 

Here’s the link for joining 

Be a hero!  Your neighbors and friends will thank you!

Monday, August 12, 2019

White Supremacy: A Trigger for Mass Murder

When I think of the ideology of white supremacy, which has affected everything in US History from immigration policy, to citizenship, access to voting rights, marriage laws, ability to
play in professional sports leagues, and much much more, what makes the largest impression, in the context of the El Paso shooting, is how it provided justification for mass murder.
In addition to legitimizing the more than 3,000 lynchings of blacks in the US between 1890 and 1910, white supremacist ideology led to three documented racial pogroms in the early 20th Century ,the Slocum Massacre in East Texas in 1910 ; the Elaine Massacre in Eastern Arkansas in 1919; and the Tulsa Riot of 1921 which destroyed the wealthiest Black community in the US - known as Black Wall Street- and killed over 200 people and left thousands homeless. In each instance, it was the threat of Black economic success which drove whites to slaughter their black neighbors-, either black farmers accumulating property and controlling the marketing of their crops, or blacks owning large homes and prosperous businesses.
The basic tenet of White Supremacy as translated into popular ideology, was that black self-assertion and economic independence threatened all white people. This is what Ida B Wells argued when explaining the prevalence of lynching; it lay behind every racial pogrom in 20th Century United States.
If you want to find analogues for that in the present, think about sources of the huge popular resentment of the Obama presidency among blue collar and middle class whites, which Trump tapped into in his use of birther ideology to pave the way for his presidential campaign. In short, the ideology of white supremacy has always lay behind instances of white terrorismand still does today

Thursday, August 8, 2019

What It's Like to Be Latina At This Awful Moment in US History

I am an 'American of Spanish descent'. That's what my mom and dad taught us to say whenever asked. Spanish is my first language, and I was trained to not speak English with an accent. My mom was fair skinned, my dad was dark, but neither looked 'ethnic'- My dad's high school nickname was Spic. It's in his yearbook from 1948. I have been told that I 'Pass for white', so I am safe. IN NEW YORK.  I still speak Spanish but my current neighborhood are predominantly white republicans. The only other Hispanics are laborers, and we do converse but always in hushed tones when white people are around. 


I have lived in the United States my entire life. I have never been afraid to be me, to speak my language, to go out and socialize- yet this past weekend made it painfully clear, there is a war on Hispanics in this country. There is a war on civilized people in this country. White friends asked me to go to an outdoor concert this week and for the first time in my life, I panicked. It was in a Hispanic neighborhood, and we're being targeted. This could just as easily be El Paso. Some hate filled creature gunning down easy targets because we look and sound different. 


I am scared. I have never felt this way, and while I'd like to think I over reacted I know that's not the case. 


I know every day in Trump's United States, there is a very real chance that someone is going to suffer because of racism, hatred and guns. 


It needs to stop

Written by  a member of the new Facebook group NARA- National Anti Racism Alliance

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Faces of Deported Children in the French Holocaust Museum

Along with the literally scores of positive memories that I will treasure from our 10 day trip to France, there is one image that will haunt me for all my days
. It comes from the Shoah ( Holocaust) Museum in Paris and it was inspired by a small room, with chairs in the middle, that contains 4,000 photographs, mounted floor to ceiling, of Jewish children deported from France to death camps during World War 2. For twenty minutes, Liz and I started at the faces. Some were baby pictures, some school pictures, some candid shots of teenagers enjoying one another or photos of children at play. That these innocent youngsters saw their promising lives erased because of hatred so great that it saw them as a danger reminds us how destructive, irrational and truly evil racism is.
This is not just history and it is not just France. The devaluation of children's lives, as my friend Stacy Patton has written eloquently, has been an integral part of how African Americans have been treated in the US, and it has resurfaced  in the deportation and detention policies of this Administration.
Deportations and Detention camps for children, are sad to say, integral parts of our current political reality in the USA.
After viewing the pictures of deported and dead children in the Paris Shoah Museum, I will resist those policies with every ounce of energy at my disposal