In late October/early November 2016, I was in my new small town speaking German with one of my blond-hair, blue-eyed children. An older white male walking by looked at me and told me that "my kind" was not wanted "here".
I answered, “I am an American citizen.”
He answered that "we" don't need "THAT" kind here.
Two much older ladies spoke up, correcting him, and I moved forward with my children.
The man was not aggressive towards me; he was stating his fact.
What I try to focus on in this story is that TWO people spoke up when they heard exclusion, discrimination, hate. TWO people protected a woman and her child. This event lasted no more than 90 seconds and never got heated because TWO people shut it down.
While living in Germany, and in conversation with someone I care deeply for and who had been an active part of the Nazi government throughout the 30s, I got up the courage to ask about that time and, more specifically, the Jews. The answer was (translation):
We did not hate the Jews. We just did not care.
This person was strong, kind, Christian. Like millions of Europeans and Americans right after World War I onwards, this person chose not to speak up, not to stand up, not to make a fuss.
If we look back in X years on the pattern of hate growing and instead of saying “NEVER AGAIN!’ we say, "That wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be," it will be because of the ongoing and relentless oversight by the people, for the people.
You matter. You can stand up. You can be the protector.
Speak out and speak up against the discrimination and hate crimes dramatically increasing throughout the United States. At home. At work. At your place of worship. While shopping. While playing goal. While on social media. While living.
If you are faced with open discrimination or sexual & racial comments/’jokes’ stop laughing. It isn’t funny. Instead, try an answer like, “You are speaking with someone who does not agree.”
If you see a face that looks different than yours or hear a voice that sounds different than yours, ask yourself, “I wonder what college he/she went to?”
And if you are not in the United States, please do the same in your corner of the world too. Britain, France, Philippines, Germany are all currently seeing right-leaning patterns that are both concerning and growing. You matter.
THIS time THIS family will be on the RIGHT side of history. With you.