Responding to Some Difficult Events

The Boston, Massachusetts, USA, Jewish community has been through a particularly difficult series of events—including the desecration of the beautiful Holocaust Memorial located here.

I am a white Ashkenazi U.S. Jew and a leader in both RC and the wide world. I focus on being an ally to people of color, and Jews of color in particular. I have become clearer about the current situation and increasingly bold in acting on my perspective. The following are some of what I’ve been doing:

I have been setting up circumstances that help people discharge and am modeling the use of the discharge process (including with people I am close to who are not in RC).

I have set aside time in my ongoing RC class to discharge about the effects of the U.S. presidential election in terms of racism, anti-Semitism, classism, anti-immigrant oppression, and other forms of oppression.

I have created an environment at work in which my team can discharge together about what is happening around us. My team consists of four Gentiles of color (all from immigrant families) and me, a white third-generation U.S. Jew. We listen to each other regularly, have marched together in protest, and have led adults and young people in the Boston Public Schools around issues of oppression.

I invited all the Jews in my office building (fifteen out of three hundred employees) to come together and take turns talking and listening about what recent events have been like for us. Everyone was pleased and grateful to be together. We agreed to meet again. I told several allies about our meeting and will continue to tell more. I want our allies to know that we are feeling sad and scared, and that they can make a difference to us by asking how we are doing.

I recently backed [supported] a friend (whom I brought into RC) to be among a handful of wide-world leaders who intervened when a rift occurred over the planning of a march for racial justice in Washington, D.C. (USA). The group that had planned the march had scheduled it for September 30, which in that year was Yom Kippur [the holiest day of the year in Judaism]. They had chosen the date because it was the anniversary of the Elaine Massacre in Arkansas, USA. (In 1919, hundreds of African American sharecroppers [tenant farmers who give away part of each crop as rent] in the town of Elaine were killed for standing up as against economic oppression.) Many white Ashkenazi Jews assumed that scheduling the march on Yom Kippur had been a deliberate exclusion of Jews and publicly denounced the scheduling. My friend, an African American Jew and a wide-world Jewish leader, listened to individuals at the center of the controversy. The planners issued a beautiful apology and statement of unity, and added plans for post-sunset activities when the Yom Kippur observance would be over, as well as “sister marches” on October 1.

I work to achieve racial equity in the Boston Public Schools and the city as a whole—increasingly as a visible Jew. We are ensuring that school and city leaders include at the decision-making table the people of color most impacted by our policies. We are studying how our decisions can correct inequities (instead of maintaining or even deepening them) and are re-evaluating policies to maximize their power to end racism.

I look forward to hearing others’ thoughts and victories during this time of painful upheaval, vicious oppression, and extraordinary opportunity.

Becky Shuster

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Reprinted from the e-mail discussion list for RC Community members involved in eliminating racism

(Present Time 191, April 2018)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00