To My Dear Black Brothers and Sisters:
I am only one person, though I hope my apology has the impact of tens of thousands. I hope this because I know that so many of you have been hurt by racism and the ignorance of my people who are in fact, people just like you, but who have pretended to be superior to you and who have overlooked your rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I feel terrible when I watch the news and see the brutality of police officers whose skin looks like mine, toward young people of color. I have seen your people beaten with billy clubs, and killed with weapons, when you were not doing anything but minding your own business and living your life. This makes me very sad, too.
As a White person, I, too, fear the police. While I believe that we, White people, must stand up to the White police officers who commit these crimes of brutality and injustice, I admit I am afraid. I regret that I feel helpless, and I apologize to you for being too afraid to confront these police officers. I recognize that this unwillingness may be part of the privilege I have as a White person.
I will strive to make my voice clear and loud so that I may become a better support for you.
Dear Beloved Black People:
I apologize for the enslavement of the African people, who were not given the choice to come to this country, but who were forced against their wills to leave the safety, security and beauty of their homes in Africa, to toil day in and day out, to be whipped, beaten, starved, raped, hung and otherwise tortured at the time of the formation of the United States of America. Your people were dehumanized, that is to say, that your humanity was stolen from you as we lied about it to one another. We told each other horrible, undignified lies about your people, that you were less than human, only three fifths of a person as stated in our Constitution.
When I think about this, I am sorry that this is my country. I am not proud of our mistakes, and I feel that the United States of America should be able to do better for our people.
A White Friend
To All People of Color:
I am a White and Jewish woman who loves you very much. My people, the Jewish people, are taught to “love the stranger as we love ourselves, for we were strangers in a strange land”. The United States of America accepted Jews into its arms at Ellis Island, although at first many of us were also considered to be Black and not White. We were depicted as grotesque caricatures of our real, beautiful selves, just as you may have experienced. Many of us came to this country to escape the Jewish Holocaust where we, too, were tortured as we were kept in concentration camps. We were starved, beaten, tortured in so-called scientific experiments, our thin skin was made into lampshades. My grandparents’ siblings were murdered. They were suffocated in gas chambers. However, my intention is not to write about myself and the suffering of my own people, but to open myself to understanding more about you and your suffering, to be open to the needs of People of Color, to acknowledge your pain and your hurts.
How could we, in America, knowing your history, ignore what has happened to you? You deserve real acknowledgment for your suffering.
Your Holocausts — that done to Black People of African Heritage as well as other Groups of Color — must never be minimized. Your Holocausts are valid, just as much as is ours or any other group. The Trail of Tears suffered by Native American Brothers and Sisters, and the Internment Camps into which good and innocent Japanese Americans were placed against your wills are tragedies that require all people’s collective acknowledgement.
We should never compare our oppressions, as our groups have suffered and we continue to suffer as long as we remain polarized. The Holocaust of Black People — The Middle Passage, your centuries-long enslavement, “separate but equal”, and the continued racial disadvantages you have experienced into the present day — requires validation, acknowledgment and understanding. Police brutality and the murder of innocent Black and Brown people, the school to prison pipeline… Your suffering is worthy of attention, and reparations should be made to you also. We regret that we have been polarized over this issue for so long.
I apologize to you for our artificial separation into two groups, when really, I know you are my people, and we share the same burden.
A Jewish Sister for Peace