Friday, July 08, 2016

pulled over

A couple of months ago, I went to the Seder for the first night of Passover at the home of my friend the rabbi. It was a wonderful evening filled with laughter, food, ritual, and telling the story of liberation yet again. We dripped wine on our plates to remember plagues. We dipped herbs in salt water to taste the tears of suffering. We opened the door for Elijah and poured a cup for Miriam. We prayed for an end to slavery. We were reminded that injustice anywhere is a threat to all of us everywhere, and that injustice has disproportionately fallen on minorities who are easily scapegoated.  We ate...and ate...and ate.

At the end of the evening (very late!) I got in my car to go home through the thoroughly deserted streets. About a mile into that journey, I saw the flashing red and blue lights behind me.

The lights on my license plate, and two tail lights on one side, were burned out.
(I didn't even know there *were* lights on my license plate.)

The officer said through my window (which I rolled all the way down, not even thinking about it): "I wanted to let you know--just a warning--because I know we can't see the backs of our own cars."

I reached across to the passenger seat and into my purse and grabbed my phone to show my insurance card and to make a note to get the lights fixed.

He ran my license, of course, and looked at my insurance card, and printed out a warning, and I was on my way.

Why isn't that how traffic stops go for people whose skin is a different color than mine?

Tonight, as I was that night, I am an outsider--not one of the people directly suffering, but one of those longing to make a difference, to bear witness and then to work for change. I have not lived my life in the shadow of my people's persecution. I have not needed to fear the police. I have the privilege of usually being in the majority/blending in, and usually knowing my life is important and my voice is valued.

Tonight I remember, again--the tears of suffering, the waiting for Elijah, the story of liberation, the fact that injustice everywhere is a threat to all of us everywhere.


*If you read that as "black lives matter more" or "only black lives matter" then may I suggest you check your own psyche before commenting. Because that says more about you and your own fear of losing a position of privilege than it does about the hashtag or the movement or the reality it represents. Let's not pretend all lives matter if we can't say that black lives matter. Suggestions to the contrary will be deleted because there's no "balance" in giving even more voice to the historically majority view. Perfect love casts out fear. 

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