Telling our stories

Apropos of nothing (ha!), I’ve been thinking about which stories get told, and which don’t.

I never learned about Juneteenth in school, or the “Black Wall Street” massacre in Tulsa. And I learned more about the civil rights movement from Rep. John Lewis’ “March” books than I ever got in school. All of that makes me angry. How can we have useful conversations about racism if we don’t all have the necessary knowledge?

But I already knew that the history we were learning wasn’t complete, because sometimes I learned something different in Hebrew school.

For instance: the Crusades. I learned in elementary school that the Crusades led to the expansion of trade routes throughout Europe, and about how that impacted European civilization. I raised my hand and, shaking with the effort, pointed out that the Crusades also led to the slaughter of many Jews and Muslims, which was what I’d learned in Hebrew school. The teacher said “Mmm-hmm,” or some other non-response, and after a short pause, went on with her lesson. And I sat there, still shaking, realizing that I’d challenged the teacher for nothing.

If we’re going to teach history, we have to teach all of it. We shouldn’t be leaving out the parts that make us uncomfortable, or that might make our “side” look bad. All of it.

Which is why it’s so important for people from all backgrounds, with different experiences and perspectives, to be able to tell their stories. That’s how we learn. That’s how change happens.

I’m telling my stories. I hope you’ll tell yours.

A dream worth having

This has been the longest March ever. Yes, I know. Ha ha. My joke was funnier in April and May. Now it’s July, and it’s harder to laugh.

How are you doing? How do you feel? Relieved school is out? (Same.) Tired of staying in the house, but nervous to leave it? (Yep, me too.) Excitedly looking forward to the library reopening so you can return the books you’ve had since February and finally get some new ones? (That might only be me.)

Fortunately mask-wearing is fairly consistent where I live, except the guy behind my husband at Lowe’s who didn’t think he needed a mask in the “outdoor part.” When told yes, he did, he snapped, “Whatever,” and pulled out a mask. Hey, at least he had one.

These are horrendous times to try to be creative. These are horrendous times to try to do anything. But we have to eat, and we have to live, and we have to keep dreaming our dreams. So we’ll figure it out.

We also have to keep trying to change things.

I freely admit I’m not the perfect Jew. But there’s a Jewish concept I agree with: Tikkun Olam, or repairing what’s broken in the world. To me, that means we’re here to help each other. It also means making sure everyone is free to live their lives as they choose, without fearing for their lives because of who they are.

Black Lives Matter. Trans Lives Matter. It’s been heartbreaking to realize, these past few months, how much work needs to be done. But let’s do the work.

For what it’s worth, the BLM protests don’t seem to be causing an increase in coronavirus infections. My own experience: I attended two protests in two weeks, then got tested to be sure. I’m fine. Everyone at both events was wearing masks.

Wear a mask. Read and promote diverse books. Figure out how best to support your friends, your family, your community. It’s why we’re here.

At some point, we’re going to come out the other side of this pandemic. We can make sure the world we step into is a better one. That’s a dream worth having.