Notes from Nina: Sharing to Help in Tough Times

Hi TADA! Friends and Family,

The last two weeks have been tough for me. I’m sure that I’m not the only one, and I’m hoping that by sharing, it will help you. The Breonna Taylor grand jury results and the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the quick replacement of her seat on the Supreme Court that’s happening have all shaken me to the core. I’m feeling angry. Intellectually, I’m trying to understand. What America are we living in? 

September has always felt like the start of a new year for me more than January because it’s the start of school and it’s the Jewish New Year. This year is so different from the start of any other year in my life – and that’s a lot of years! 

My Dad said that Yom Kippur is the day that all of one’s sins get washed away by God because you make amends and ask for forgiveness. It is very hard for me to forgive myself. I forgive others much easier. I intellectually believe and hope that I learn from my mistakes and move forward making changes based on what I’ve learned. I truly believe this, but it does not stop me from first beating myself up about the mistake I made or about hurting people unintentionally.

I was not brought up religiously. I do not know the Torah or the Bible. As I’ve said before, many times I hear what I need to hear when watching TV, movies, and plays. 

On my vacation, before going to the pool, I would watch episodes of the original Little House on the Prairie TV series. Don’t ask me why I’m not sure I know. I saw an episode that spoke to me and also made me very aware of how things are different now from when this show was made- not the time it was about but when it was actually aired in 1977 (I was a teenager). 

The episode dealt with racism and referred to the Song of Solomon from the Bible. One white character quoted “Look not upon thee because I am Black” to justify her not wanting to treat Black people fairly. It was then pointed out to her by a white man that the Song of Solomon is a love song that also said, “I am Black because the sun hath darkened me. I am Black, but beautiful.” He also said, “One thing that I’m absolutely sure of is that God doesn’t care what color a person’s skin is as long as his spirit is pure.” 

In a later scene a Black man was having a conversation with a blind Black boy:
Child:  “What’s the difference between black and white?” 
Adult: “They’re just two different colors, that’s all. But some folks get it in their head that it’s all the difference in the world.”
Child: “They don’t like what’s different from them?”
Adult: “That’s about it.”
Child: “Maybe folks would be nicer to folks if they never saw anything.”
Adult: “You know, you got more vision than some folks with two good eyes.” 

By the end of the episode, the racist white woman from the beginning stood up for the Black characters to a racist white man. She had changed, and she walked away hand in hand with the little Black boy. It was a happy ending to that episode.  

I grew up believing that if we could just get people to see each other for who we are and not the color of our skin we could end racism. I wish life right now could be this simple but it’s not. Too much has happened over the past 400 years to believe that just not seeing the different color of people’s skin is the solution to America’s race problems for BIPOC. 

I also saw Tyler Perry’s speech at the Emmy Awards and loved the story of the quilt he received from his grandmother and these words that he said: “In my mother’s quilt, she couldn’t imagine me owning land that was once a Confederate Army base where Confederate soldiers plotted and planned on how to keep Blacks enslaved. And now, on that very land, Black people, White people, gay, straight, lesbian, transgender, ex-cons, Latin, Asian, all of us, come together, working. All coming together to add patches to a quilt that is as diverse as it can be. Diversity at its best. I stand here tonight to say thank you to all of the people who are celebrating and know the value of every patch, and every story, and every color that makes up this quilt that is our business, this quilt that is our lives, this quilt that is America.”

It made me aware that we all sew our own quilt, that we add patches to our quilt and we choose those patches. We need to value every patch, every story, and every quilt. We need to speak out and stand up when we hear racist comments or see racist actions. We need to share all the different stories. I can not do it on the scale of Tyler Perry but I will make sure that moving forward this is what we’re doing at TADA!.