Tag : change

July 27, 2020 by

We are Dying Because of the Fears of White People

Why are white people so afraid of my Black skin? When will living in this Black body feel liberating and freeing, instead of terrifying? When will this country acknowledge this pain? When will we have to stop running on the wheel of white supremacy? When will we be able to breathe?

I am exhausted, too. All the Black people in me are tired. […] We can’t get into an accident and knock on someone’s door for help. We can’t be too loud in our joy. We can’t be too Black. We can’t go birdwatching. We can’t say “I can’t breathe” and expect to live. We can’t be. We are murdered and blamed for our own deaths. We are tired of running. Tired of being told that we are not enough. Tired of constricting ourselves into tiny boxes. Tired of screaming “Black Lives Matter” at the top of our lungs. Tired of mourning and grieving those we’ve lost—those lost to gun violence, those who’ve slipped through the cracks in our society, those we’ve lost to Covid-19. We are tired.

My liberation is tied to your liberation. I want collective liberation. I need collective liberation. I need to feel free in this Black body. Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) need the time and space to dream, heal, and rest.

This is not a fight of our own creation. We are living and dying because of the fears and imaginations of white people. It is long overdue for white folx to join us in this fight. This feels especially relevant when the mainstream Jewish community continues debating whether Jews of Color exist, and cannot even have conversations about how Ashkenormativity in the Jewish community hurts Jews of Color.

It is no longer the time to stand on the sidelines and cheer us on (and it never was). If you love me, show me. Show me what the Jewish values of Tikkun Olam look like. Will you shield me with your body to protect me from the vicious blows that come from living in a white supremacist society? Will you move through the pain that comes with wading through 400 years of racist and white supremacist history to get to the other side with me?

Black people are magic. We make the impossible possible. We always were and always will be. It amazes me that despite the injustices, the maimings, the killings, and the collective trauma, we haven’t yet burned the world down. I suppose that given all our ancestors went through, we will not go down without a fight. Or, maybe we are just otherworldly and we’re here to inform you of new ways of being.

DENA ROBINSON, The Lilith Blog

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The Lilith Blog

May 13, 2020 by

On Unorthodox: The Hasidim Are Not An Anomaly

Not long ago, I saw a young woman in hasidic garb on the plaza outside Lincoln Center. She was sitting at the top of the steps with a cup and a cardboard sign, her long skirt spread around her. I wasn’t surprised—young people are leaving hasidic communities in a steady stream, and those who leave often lose their support system, with little or no education or skills. She wore a look of abject shame. Or perhaps it was despair, her eyes trained on the ground.  

I pictured her as I watched the recent Netflix series Unorthodox. In an accompanying documentary, director Maria Schrader said that television is “aspirational.” Aspirational stories have a simple shape—the heroine escapes a monster and finds her way to freedom. At the end of Unorthodox, the heroine, Esty, fingers a compass given her as a gift and smiles.

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April 17, 2018 by

Clues to Making Change

  • Listen when people talk about their experiences. Believe them.
  • Use the power of the bima. Make your dvar torah/newsletter/sermon about #MeToo, sexual harassment, supporting women. “Is it sad to me that women have to use men’s voices to promote their own? Yes, but that’s going to be effective,” said Rabbi Rachel Ain of New York’s Sutton Place Synagogue, during the webinar “#MeToo From the Pulpit: A Rabbi’s Role in Creating Safe, Respectful Synagogue Communities.”
  • Talk about—and model—proper behavior. “We need to openly talk about gender dynamics on the bima, in newsletters and in board meetings,” said Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu. “Comments about a woman rabbi’s body and clothing are never appropriate. Rabbis on the bima or officiating at a lifecycle event are not there to be objectified. They are there to do their job and offhand comments like these, though they are often meant as compliments, only serve to undermine the stature of the rabbi. It causes women to feel diminished.”
  • Find and use liturgy that emphasizes the sacredness of speaking out. “We need to look at how our tradition perpetuates imbalances of power,” said Rabbi Mira Beth Wasserman of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, a panelist at “Revealing #MeToo As #WeToo in Jewish Communal Life.” “We don’t talk about the language of upstanding and rebuke that exists in the text. People need to hear their rabbis talking about speaking out.”
  • Use money to make change. Don’t ask people to do the work of change for free, said Wasserman. All Jewish organizations should also be investing in sexual harassment trainings, as well as follow-up, and, Wasserman suggested, creating a fund to support those who are pursuing cases against their abusers.
  • Place affected people at the center of change-making. “It’s those who have experienced sexual harassment and abuse who should be deciding how resources get allocated,” said Shifra Bronznick, founder of Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community, at the “WeToo” event. 

— C.D.

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