This article was originally written by MK Merrigan and has been adapted with permission for MK Advisors.
I often tell people my story — mostly when asked, but often voluntarily as a way to build a bridge of mutual understanding — and have experienced the power and the intimidation in that act of eager connection.
The Jewish struggle has long been a raw topic, due to my generation knowing older family members who at least remember or were impacted by the deeply rooted, confusing elements of their story… from the beginnings and Babylon to the Israel-that-is-now. In my modern-day experiences in the land and among friends I deeply cherish, I see a deeply held desire for equality and triumph.
The Black struggle (which obviously includes African-Americans but now, more than ever, we should be thinking of all shades of Americans as American-Americans…) has deeply-rooted and recently-experienced memories, which sometimes lead to involuntary responses of understandable rage and reflex. (For more on involuntary rage, see my article titled: Why The Rage You Hear Really Isn’t About Kavanaugh). In my experience as the only white girl on the basketball team at “KG” in the 90s, and my foundations in being the “lighter-brown” of the beautiful Hawaiian mountain schoolchildren that I so dramatically stuck out from, or next to my “dad” — who looked Hawaiian in Hawaii but was ultimately revealed to look very Mexican to rural Mississippians — I see a deeply held desire for equality and triumph.
And as a white woman raising white kids with a white husband in white suburbia, I have experienced this deeply held desire for equality and triumph more recently, in review of the sins of our fathers. From avoiding involvement while Jews were slaughtered, to allowing the rights of some to be good enough, to other phenomena that, at the time, seemed minute (e.g. President Clinton’s beneath-reproach, beneath the office, and beneath the character we desire for our Nation), our current National diatribe is blaring over every loud speaker reminding us to remember who we are. [Inhale]
Some may observe that the current state of white America is curiously in a state of processing its place, almost as if walking through the various stages of terminal illness. (The stages oddly include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.)
Stripping voting rights — even if it wasn’t a white man who did it with intention — is still poking at the familiar wound. The place isn’t raw as if from the historical records of the 1800s, or even the 1930s. We’re talking about the 1960s. Yes, the decade my very white husband was born. This IS fresh, and the fearful reactions are justifiable.
While I may have a slightly different perspective as the minority in most of my childhood environments, it should be obvious to everyone that this American Trauma must find her way out of the state of fear and anger, past bargaining for what is not on the table, and beyond the depression that real shame and remorse can bring.
It’s time that America accepts her past and in that space of grace where pain was seeded, grow empathetic, strive toward real equality, and experience the triumph that is inevitable when her American Character is restored.
“Our challenge is to project security in a world marked — with important exceptions — by the diminution of state authority and the rise of individual empowerment.” Lincoln P. Bloomfield Jr. & Tom Harvey