Being Open to Change

The past month and a half has brought America much to think about. And things that we must think about. No matter where we are or who we are. We all play a part in the greater collective.

The death of George Floyd and other people of color lately, and through time, in America must make us pause. And for white people to notice our part in this difficult present and past so we can make a better future.

Old theater turned church, west side of Detroit, Warren Avenue.

This country has been built on hardship. Its vast wealth has been built in large part on the backs of enslaved people and on the land taken from native people. If we are white, we need to realize that. And we also need to realize that we are born with privilege that our skin color affords us. That is true now, and it has been true in the past. That does not mean that we need to replicate bad patterns going forward.

We are at a critical moment as a nation to realize our difficult past and use it to build a better future. These may seem to be cliches, but they are not.

I’ve been hearing a lot of discussion about the protestors who are out on the streets now. I’ve been hearing everything from full-fledged support to outright denigration to stipes in between. I think it’s critical to realize that the picture is so much more complex than decrying a whole movement and the people who are making it happen. In fact, nothing in our country has ever changed without people adding their voices and pushing from below. That’s what we’re seeing now. There’s a fringe that is using demonstration for their own (destructive) benefit. But the vast majority are those who are arguably the biggest sorts of patriots out there: those who want to make their country, their state, their neighborhoods better for everyone.

As white people we need to notice how we can be a part of this change and how we can be allies to our friends, neighbors, colleagues, fellow community members of color. And we need to listen. For some that listening is hard. We need to hear, we need to make space. And we need to work with people of color to make change going forward.

It’s this push, this noise and its subsequent silences, the pressure and discomfort that we need to make to create what is absolutely possible: a better, more just country for all of us. And that’s what true love of country and its people – all its people – means, and what it looks like.

Barack Obama says it succinctly:

“It’s important for us to also understand that the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ simply refers to the notion that there’s a specific vulnerability for African Americans that needs to be addressed. It’s not meant to suggest that other lives don’t matter. It’s to suggest that other folks aren’t experiencing this particular vulnerability.” –  ABC Town Hall

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/powerful-quotes-president-obamas-abc-town-hall/story?id=40591539.

Zooming Out and Zooming In

Sheltering in place has given me much time to be both introspective as well as to look out in the wider world. I actually love being in my apartment – on the fourth floor of a big old 1920s apartment building in Detroit.

I’m here now in the time of pandemic more than I had been before, of course. It gives me a great window out to the world. I’ve been enjoying looking out on my lively neighborhood and seeing my neighbors also sheltering in place. My windows out to the world remind me a bit of the 1954 movie “Rear Window” https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-rear-window-1954 – minus any murders!

My friend Lori really sums up some of the inner thoughts that I too think of in her own blog, Marima and Ice: https://marimbaandice.blogspot.com/2020/05/reflections-on-quarantine-two-months.html#more.

This time also gives me more time to deeply reflect on the world beyond me and think about deep issues of all sorts. Being in a time of pandemic really underlines to me just how small our world really is – while being huge. And how connected we really all are.

If there’s one thing that I like to have a lot of, it’s hope. And I have hope that we will get past all of this with a brighter future ahead of us!

Springtime Growth

This time of pandemic has really given me a great amount of perspective and ability to reflect. As noted in a previous post here in this blog, I’m looking for – and finding – silver linings. I am so very grateful to have a strong network of friends that I’m in contact with in a consistent, caring, and deep way. This is a set of friends from the various “chapters” in my life: I’ve gathered these wonderful people in my life from different people I’ve lived over the years, places I’ve worked, schools that I’ve attended.

Buddhist Temple – Dawalla Beach, Sri Lanka.

The global pandemic has underlined our basic need for connection. As an ambivert, I love equally both my time with people as well as my time alone. My awesome job coach Heather Coleman-Voss (https://www.careersavvycoaching.com/) has introduced me to this term! It is a perfect profile for me. I live just with my cat in my apartment, and I so love it. I have the perfect mix of being social with people that are important to me and that I love, and time solo. Beautiful equanimity!

I feel so very grateful for the incredible people in my life and also for the deep sense of love that I have for myself. I love myself enough to know who is important to me, including me!

Finding Silver Linings

During this time of global pandemic, I’ve found that it’s really important to me to find positives in this time of unknown and a lot of fear. And I’m in the belly of the beast: Detroit is turning out to be an epicenter.

So – how to hold onto the lifeline of calm and centeredness through it all? It’s those positives – the silver linings – that keep me feeling good through this time.

One thing that I love is my daily walks. I’m of course working from home these days, so I go out on walks after work is over and keep walking until dark. Sometimes after dark.

I live in the New Center neighborhood of Detroit and love it. My walks take me out to all directions around the city. As an archivist and a history-head, I love to pay attention to all sorts of cues the various neighborhoods, blocks, and buildings tell me.

My neighborhood from the 1930s to the 1960s was the heart of Jewish Detroit. My walks take me past buildings that speak to a vibrant and large Jewish community through the blocks.

I have found buildings that are very clearly synagogues, but there are also discoveries of buildings that have had their Hebrew letters muted by signs posted over them – or even, in some cases, putting concrete over them. I have found temples as well as community centers and schools.

Walking past these buildings – “finding” them (on a personal level) has been so deeply interesting to me. Detroit’s Jewish history is similar to that of other Midwestern cities and towns. But of course each community’s sets of stories are individual and unique.

My walks through this time of pandemic have allowed me to reach back into the past, learn more about where I live, and learn more about what it is now.

A silver lining indeed.

Sources:

Jewish Virtual Library: Detroit, Michigan – https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/detroit-jewish-history-tour#1915.

“See What ‘Pops Up’ in Jewish Detroit History”, by Robbie Terman, MyJewishDetroithttps://myjewishdetroit.org/2016/01/see-what-pops-up-in-the-history-of-jewish-detroit/.

“Finding Aids”, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit – https://jewishdetroit.org/finding-aids/.

“Bethel Community Transformation Center”, HistoricDetroit.org – https://historicdetroit.org/buildings/bethel-community-transformation-center.

Cleveland Jewish History – https://www.clevelandjewishhistory.net/.

“A History Snapshot”, The Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest – http://www.jhsum.org/2013/01/a-history-snapshot/.

Indiana Jewish Historical Society – http://www.ijhs.org/.

Gaining Perspective

Being part of the global pandemic along with everyone else gives me even more perspective on our complicated world. I’m loving feeling even more connected to my friends and family than I normally am – that’s a silver lining. I appreciate that, through all the unknowns and the weight of the coronavirus, that my friends and family and I are connected via various platforms. Though I don’t get to see them in person I can connect with them in meaningful ways. What a gift!