I’m part of a program at work called “Train the Champion”, led by our Office of Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity. It’s a year-long program, and each month we explore something new – LGBTQ+ rights, gender, age, etc.
We went to the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage recently. I knew we would tackle anti-semitic beliefs. But we also discussed more than that.
At the start of the day, we watched a short film called “Stop the Hate”. Video here – but please please know that this contains very disturbing content. Several in my group were sobbing by the end.
I wasn’t. As we watched it I grew more and more angry. I was FURIOUS by the end because this…..this CRAP is happening again. Not just in America but around the world.
As we began our tour of the museum itself, I felt a resolve grow in me. And I started writing this post in my head. It was my way of detaching myself from the emotions pouring through me. The tour of the museum was eye opening – there were positives (how the Jewish influx into Cleveland began, which industries were supported and started by Jewish people in NE Ohio, famous Jewish people from NE Ohio, etc.) but then we hit the Holocaust and let me tell y’all, we can talk about the Nazi atrocities but seeing actual Nazi regalia and outfits worn by prisoners in the concentration camps, and being surrounded by videos and images from that horrific time was overwhelming.
After we finished going through the museum, we sat back down in the auditorium and met a wonderful little old lady who was a Holocaust survivor.
She was from Hungary. Budapest. (Note: I’m ¼ Hungarian, ½ German, ¼ English). I’d handled the fact that I was German years ago but to hear first-hand what was done by Hungarians was a gut punch. How freaking entitled am I that I was able to ignore what some Hungarians did or allowed to happen during that time period? I felt myself pulling back emotionally as she told us her story because it was just too much for me.
FYI: Erika Gold is her name. Here’s a short story by a local news station about her.
I have all the feels right now. All of them.
Sometimes I don’t express myself as well as I should. I know that. Sometimes my peer-like-qualities get tossed to the wayside when I am filled with emotions like the ones coursing through me right now.
I will try like mad to channel my inner PLQs and express my emotions and thoughts clearly.
Racists have no place in our Society. None. The Society is based on chivalry and courtesy and cannot allow racists to go unchecked.
After my post about this in January went off the rails, I’ve laid out some guidelines for myself when it comes to posting about this stuff. (and once again we get to the part where I remind you I’m human, I mess up, and by all that’s HOLY, learn from my mistakes so you don’t make them too!)
Here’s what I’m going to do in the future:
- I am an ally to others seeking equality for all. I will learn about microaggressions. Defend my friends and work with others to spread understanding.
- If a person posts something racist AND I’ve never seen or heard them do this before, I’ll assume ignorance, not malice. I’ll send them a PM and let them know “hey, soooo that post came across to me as offensive. Here’s why.” I won’t use “you” in the conversation. I’ll use “me” or the group that the post was about.
- If a person posts something racist and I’ve said something to them before about the content I view offensive, I’ll ask myself why I’m friends with them either on social media or in the physical world. My being friends with them appear as implicit endorsement of their racist/bigoted behavior. I will unfriend on social media and walk away.
- Understand that racist actions =/= racists. Racist people are “fueled by bigotry and prejudice”. I can’t change them. But many folks do things because they have “grown up in a culture where this is the norm, and they may not understand it to be racist.” Read more on this page.
- There is no specific definition of ‘racist’, if I believe something is racist, I’ll reach out to a friend about it to ask for a gut-check. I’ve had to do that a few times about posts that seemed on the fence. In those cases, I privately messaged the person who posted it to let them know that it could be viewed as racist. Nine out of ten times it was met with “omg I didn’t mean it that way, let me pull it!” (this is part of assuming ignorance rather than malice.)
We have to stop allowing hateful things to happen in the SCA. It can only stop when all of us stand up. There are ways to be chivalrous and honorable and STILL stand up against the racists. I’d love to hear your ideas and feedback on how you are finding ways to do so.