Black Lives Matter: ESC Stands in Support

I am distraught over my son crying about George Floyd while we are safe in our home. I can’t even begin to imagine how it must feel to be a black mother who has to worry about their child’s safety every time they leave the house. A mother who has to worry daily that their son will end up like George Floyd – senselessly murdered and targeted because of the color of his skin. I am at a loss for words.

I grew up in Brooklyn, NY, 2 blocks from Ocean Avenue, and one block from Foster Avenue, a neighbourhood heavily populated by Black people. I’d be lying if I said I felt safe walking the blocks surrounding our Victorian homes as a little girl. I don’t know why. Did they look different? Yes. Did they dress different? Yes. Did they sound different? Yes. Did they ever harm me? Never. Maybe some comments, but nothing any worse than the mean girls at my Jewish private school.

I was not raised racist. Insular and closed minded for sure, but absolutely not racist. My grandmother dedicated her life to helping the underprivileged. She taught in some of the most poverty-stricken minority schools in Brooklyn. But I did not have diversity within my life. I grew up surrounded by white Jews, most of whom were affluent.

It was not until college that I discovered the outside world. Not for a lack of interest, but for a lack of exposure and awareness.

My first real diverse friend is my best friend Chelsea. She is Puerto Rican. Her siblings are half black. And when I first met her, I asked perhaps one of the most ignorant questions I’ve ever asked. I am not proud of it. It was embarrassing. But it wasn’t out of hatred, rather, sheer and utter ignorance. I hadn’t been exposed. Fast forward a decade. We are best friends, my soulmate in this challenging walk of life. We could not have grown up with more different circumstances, surroundings, and cultures – yet we are best friends because we have everything in common. Who could have thought people who grow up so differently could have so much in common? If only we took the time to get to know one another better. To understand each other better. To have more compassion and tolerance for one another. Without judgment.

When I was 13, my estranged father married an ultra-Orthodox woman while my parents were still legally married. She is evil. She ruined my family. She is also a racist. I remember having to go for forced visitation in Crown Heights every Tuesday and every other weekend and being subject to closed minded thinking that perpetuated hate. I remember listening to her racist rhetoric. I hadn’t been exposed to it in my home. Even as a young teenager, I remember how disturbed I was. Her son was murdered by an Arab terrorist. You would think she’d preach tolerance. She didn’t. She perpetuated the cycle of hatred. Within my own family and to the outside world.

We need to break the cycle. All intolerant and judgmental cycles. It starts with educating our children, and with taking deeper looks inside ourselves. Not only learning not to judge others, but also using our voices OUT LOUD when we see injustice. It’s a lesson that took me 25 years to learn. And I only learned it because I judged myself for something I was not proud of. I am not afraid to stand resolute behind my beliefs, all the while knowing people will criticize me and call me crazy. I’ve grown to be strong enough not to care. People’s judgments are a reflection of their own internal unhappiness. I may not be able to relate to some people’s experiences, and vice versa, but I can listen and learn. Listen to the struggles they experience. Learn how to help more. Do better. One thing I know for sure – I teach my children to have love in their hearts, for all people. All skin colors, all religions, all ethos. As long as they are kind, we love them. And if they are not kind, we pray that they get better and heal so that they can break the cycle. It is a cycle of hurt and pain. Hurt people hurt people. I do not condone these riots. They are violent, and violence is never the answer. But the underlying sentiment behind the riots needs to be heard. Voices have been suppressed for a long time and we haven’t been listening. I do ask and pray that the violence stops. I’ve grown up in NYC my whole life, but this is the first time I’ve ever been afraid to walk the streets, and I’m not really afraid of anything except God.

I changed a lot as a person when I watched the documentary, Waiting For Superman. I had no clue how blessed I was to have my private school education. My eyes opened. We are a product of our education and our upbringings. This country needs educational reform, but we need to start at home. Start educating ourselves about the real issues. Don’t just repeat things we’ve heard. Study them from all sides, because there are 3 sides to every story. Learn to form our own opinions and thoughts and not just be parrots of what we are told. If you want to learn, that documentary is a good place to start.

Jews and Blacks have had hatred for one another for a long time. It’s time the leaders of both communities – the ones who aren’t afraid to be different and be outside the box – start uniting. Start having compassion for one another. Start working together to effect change. We are all humans. We are both minorities. We need to stand in solidarity. Stop being fearful of one another and be more supportive. Smile at each other. Say hello. Talk to each other. Be friends. Support each other’s businesses. It’s the only way to start. When I started my career, I didn’t do it to have a public voice. I did it to get my freedom. I am grateful my platform has given me a voice to perpetuate important messages.

I will be creating an artwork in the image of George Floyd called ‘Kindness’. 50% of profits from all print sales will be donated to charities including American Civil Liberties UnionThe Love Land FoundationLegal Defense and Educational Fund, and Equal Justice Initiative.

Even though George Floyd is the face of the movement now these are the black lives that have fallen unjustly on behalf of those sworn to protect us due to people’s hatred, racism, and prejudice views:

George Floyd
Breonna Taylor
Ahmaud Arbery
Botham Jean
Atatiana Jefferson
Jonathan Ferrell
Renisha McBride
Stephon Clark
Jordan Edwards
Jordan Davis
Alton Sterling
Aiyana Jones
Michael Brown
Tamir Rice
Charleston 9
Trayvon Martin
Sean Bell
Oscar Grant
Sandra Bland
Philando Castille
Corey Jones
John Crawford
Terence Crutcher
Keith Scott
Clifford Glover
Claude Reese
Randy Evans
– Yvonne Smallwood
Amadou Diallo
Walter Scott
Eric Gardner
Freddie Gray

Actionable Steps

-Make a statement from your company expressing your demand for your followers to support the movement for Anti-Racism.

-It is no longer ok just not be racist we MUST be Anti-Racists(ism) in order to effect change and make a difference so we can move towards created a better world for our friends, family and children to life in.

-Promote official petitions from solid credible organizations such as BlackLivesMatter & NAACP.