Today it hurts to be human – to see my fellow men and women hating on people just because of the color of their skin or the place they were born. My heart weeps.
Today I was remembering how you stood up to the racist man in the Sears store when I was just a little girl. As a black family walked by, the bigot turned to you – expecting probably to get agreement from a fellow white person – and said, loud enough so the family could hear, “Those people should stay in their own part of town.” And I remember how your face turned red with indignation and you almost shook with the fury you felt, and you said, “That family has as much right to be here as you or me!” And I was so proud to be your daughter.
I remembered the day Dad wanted to visit his old home in a part of Los Angeles that most white people would have probably avoided then – I remembered how Dad knocked on the door of his old house, and the look on Pearl’s face as she saw him standing on her front stoop. Dad explained this was his childhood home and asked if he could come in and look around – and Pearl opened the door wide for him and shook his hand, and welcomed him in. And I remember the young black men who opened the door for my dad 42 years later, when he was 98 and living in a retirement home – I remembered how Dad made a special effort to turn and thank them, and how they said it was no problem and wished him a good day. And I was so proud to be his daughter.
And today a young black man and I were so polite to each other in the bank – “No, you first… No, really, YOU first… No, I insist…” – that I started laughing at the pair of us – my heart just so full of his kindness and generosity that I wanted to hug him. And later there was a black man who crossed the street in front of me when I stopped for him, and turned to thank me, and saw me smiling back at him, and smiled and waved. And later still – at the teriyaki place – there was the Asian man with the beautiful smile who had to reach in front of me to get the soy sauce – and he apologized and excused himself – and I joked with him: “No, you can’t have it.” And he started laughing with me. And the simple beauty of these encounters was just so poignant today – as on the other side of my nation racists hurl their fear and hatred out into the world – that I felt myself tearing up.
You and Dad showed me how to open my heart up and feel the pain and love of others and, though sometimes it hurts terribly, I would not have it any other way. I’m grateful for this gift of empathy. Thank you, Moz.
I love you.