By Yaffa Koff
What I am about to say is coming from a place of love. It will probably make you uncomfortable and might even make you upset. But please keep in mind, I’m not accusing, I’m just trying to inform.
Right now there has been a huge surge in the fight for equal rights; that all people, no matter what color skin they have, should be treated equally. That a man or woman shouldn’t be targeted, oppressed or killed, just because they are black or another person of color.
I know you know this. I know you probably are saying to yourselves, “I’m not a racist.” Here’s the sad truth: Many of us don’t even realize that the actions we are taking right now are filled with racism.
Posting memes or videos mocking whats going on right now: that’s racist.
Speaking out only about the horrors of looting and not even bothering to mention that a man was murdered: that’s racist.
Dressing up, putting on blackface and in general appropriating other cultures: that’s racist.
Sitting back and not educating your family: that’s racist.
The list goes on, but I think you’re beginning to understand.
If we don’t stand up and say “ENOUGH!” we are no better then anyone else who is actively being racist.
For the intents of this conversation we are white, or as one coined the term “white passing.” We have white privileges that we take for granted and don’t even realize. When we go into a store, we’re not worried that someone is watching us the whole time we’re there, assuming we’re going to steal something. When we go out driving, we don’t fear that a cop will pull us over and arrest us. When our children go outside to play, or our older ones start driving, we don’t fear that they won’t come home because they have been killed or arrested by a police officer.
I beg of you to draw on our experiences as oppressed Jewish people to help you try and understand what’s going on right now. We cannot compare, one being persecuted for religion is very different then being persecuted just because you have darker skin. But we can begin to understand. We can empathize. We can cry for our Black brothers and sisters and we can stand up and say “ENOUGH.” I’m not asking you to start a movement, I’m not asking you to go and march (though feel free to do so if you want).
All I’m asking is for you to educate yourself.
Stop sharing racist media. Teach your children, raise them to not judge a person just because they look different then them. Let us start a new generation, a generation of tolerance, love and acceptance. Because if we do not start to teach our children, this cycle will never end. It is incumbent upon us to start anew.
Now, I know what you’re going to respond to me: “But Yaffa, this violence… the looting… people’s businesses!” Yes, I know! I’m not condoning the violence. And for the most part, neither are the people who are protesting for change. Yes, there is a small group of people that are inciting violence, many of them actually outside groups and white supremacists who are just trying to create havoc.
But when all of a sudden you are finding outrage at people’s businesses being destroyed, I ask you: Where was your outrage when men and women were murdered just because they are black? Sanctity of life must always be first.
Please listen to what I’m saying. Please don’t ignore what I’m saying. Please educate yourself.
Yaffa Koff is a newborn photographer living in Silver Spring with her husband and five children.