Each Other Includes All Colors

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said “the opposite of good is not evil; it is indifference. Some of us were horrified at the Claremont white teenage boys’ attempted hanging of an 8 year old biracial boy. Others took it in stride as, “boys will be boys”.  Significantly, the boys’ parents attempted to minimize the assault, key to understanding that those boys, in fact, needed a village to raise them; they weren’t going to learn to respect all colors at home. A small crowd of concerned citizens in Claremont did respond, and stood up to the plate to support 8 year old Quincy.

Given any issue, there will always be those who see no problem and others who are aware. Part of membership in a village includes educating ourselves to the behaviors we don’t even notice in ourselves that contribute to injustices in the village.

Heschel noted that “words create worlds. The Holocaust didn’t begin with tanks and guns; it began with words. Live life as if it is a work of art, ‘Your own existence’.”

Hopefully, the courts will include both the teenage boys and their parents in whatever consequences are meted out to teach them what they need to know in order to contribute to community safety and respect for their neighbors.

John Howard Griffin’s book, Black Like Me (1961), a classic available in local libraries is one book that helps whites take a closer look at our own behavior. Griffin wrote about racial inequality. He was a white Texan who had his skin darkened and shaved his head so that he could travel in the south, experience what it was like to be black, and write a book documenting his experiences. Fifty-eight years later, we still have a long way to go to clean up our behavior as a village.

Racism is clearly not just a southern problem. Here is a frightening example of how it erupts in the north in a quiet New England town. And it starts with nonsense words. And they are not  just “boys will be boys” words that exist only in Claremont, NH.

If we want to keep each other well, we need to continually monitor ourselves and each other, and live as though our lives are works of art to be treasured by all viewers.

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2 Responses to “Each Other Includes All Colors”

  1. susan in VT Says:

    Wonderful essay, Elizabeth–thank you!

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