Day 77: Leveling

If I didn’t look at the news and I didn’t think too hard, today felt almost like any other Sunday.

The girls played and I worked on my pancake flipping skills. We made Passionfruit frozen yogurt for Daddy’s birthday this week, skyped with America and went to eat dinner with some neighborhood friends. We didn’t go anywhere that required a mask. We didn’t feel like our lives were in danger. No one was suspicious of us based on our appearances. We weren’t persecuted or discriminated against. But I know that some people in America did experience those things today.

I live in Germany but I am an American. The fact that being black in America is so dangerous is disturbing to every fiber of my being. I am one of those white people who is heartbroken to finally accept the ugly reality that this is a systemic problem that isn’t going away. It’s perpetuated by greed and hate and ignorance and fear and indifference. And when we are honest it has never been deeply addressed or ripped out of the fabric of our nation by the roots.

But getting your country into a position where it could start over with a clean slate is destructive business. Case and point:

As a result of WWII, Germany was leveled, completely torn apart. The German people were deeply shamed in front of the entire world as a result of the Nazi’s inhumane behavior. When the country was reconstructed however, it was built on the fundamental principle of Human Dignity. The first article of the German constitution reads: Human Dignity should be inviolable. To respect and protect it is the duty of all state authority.

Now, as far as I know, America was never experienced a leveling or a reckoning like this. It has never been publicly shamed for things like the slave trade or Jim Crow. The world has not held America accountable to the issue of human dignity. The country has never been forced to make a full stop and re-start in a whole new way and how could it?

But wasn’t slavery and all that followed a calculated, cruel, human rights violation of the same disgusting vein as the Holocaust? I’m not encouraging us to fixate on these devastating histories but it does seem like in America we just keep trying to paint over this disturbing reality instead of actually pulling it out by the roots and creating something totally new. I’m not sure we’ve ever truly fallen on our knees and really felt the weight of what we’ve done in the way the German people have been forced to do for the last 70 years.

Guilt and shame are not solutions to America’s race problems. But never forget is an important concept in not letting history repeat itself and you can’t never forget something if you’re not willing to look at it. This is not the first time I’ve wondered if America needs a shake up and not only in the form of a new social policy, or a new monument or a new program.

I don’t have much wisdom to offer I just continue to feel like I can’t only share whimsical anecdotes of childhood and helpful tips without also mentioning this very real darkness. What I can offer are the phrases that I heard come out of my girl’s mouths for the first time today. Without realizing it they captured the exasperation that so many people feel.

Having lost a puzzle piece Little Bean was frustrated. We looked and looked to no avail. She shook her head and stared at the mostly finished puzzle saying, This is just ridiculous. Ridiculous.

Later Big Sister relayed a story to me about how her Oma invited both girls to sleep over tonight even though she’s been saying for months it’s too much for her to have both girls at the same time. Big Sister seemed to be very unamused by this contradiction and said that to Oma in no uncertain terms. After relaying the entire conversation, she looked at me, shook her head and said, What a mess!

Peace, Until tomorrow

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