It happened. Again. On February 26, for the second time in a week, a Jewish cemetery was desecrated by a hate crime in the United States…this time in Philadelphia, known as the “City of Brotherly Love.” Headstones were toppled and damaged. Families were outraged. All of this happened alongside five waves of bomb threats toward Jewish community centers (JCC’s) since the American presidential election. If these facts don’t send a chill down your spine, then click on this link – “This is What a JCC Bomb Threat Sounds Like.” It contains a recording of what the people protecting our Jewish children have to put up with on a regular basis, not knowing which threat might be a real explosive in the midst of innocent victims.
The first time an act of vandalism in a Jewish cemetery occurred this week, it was in my own city of St. Louis where members of my husband’s family are buried. Over 150 headstones were knocked over or broken at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery. As a Christian, I know that sometimes people in the majority need to see a hate crime as personal before it touches their hearts. I sought to break down that barrier for others by posting about it on Facebook and asking people to comment with what action they would take about this hate crime. Some friends posted supportive comments that comforted me. Yet I was saddened by comments (even from one Jewish person) on other Facebook walls basically saying, “What’s the big deal? It’s a cemetery. Those people are dead.”
The big deal is that these are the memories of loved ones and a sacred space. The big deal is that these are hateful actions anti-Semitic cowards take because they figure the dead can’t come after them. But history shows us that when people are silent, the haters are emboldened and go after living people next.
Sometimes I’m skeptical of social media awareness posts for various causes when they don’t call for specific action, but I do think that they can serve this important purpose: They publicly let people know where you stand. I’m of the opinion that if others don’t know how you feel about racism and hate-crimes, then you probably haven’t said enough.
How can We Speak Out Against Hate Crimes?
I urge everyone to take on one of these actions against hate crimes as it makes sense for you in your country:
- Post on your Facebook about hate crimes in your community, your country, or around the world, so that people know what is happening and that you are against it.
- Write a letter to the editor about it to be published in your local paper, so racists in your community know that their feelings are opposed. Here’s an opinion piece I wrote after Indian-American families were targeted in my neighborhood.
- Tweet or write to the President of the United States (@realDonaldTrump). Let him know that only one statement about hate crimes isn’t enough. His silence is perpetuating these acts and that is not okay. The White House address is 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, DC 20006.
- If you are a U.S. resident, thank your U.S. senators for speaking out against the hate crimes in Jewish cemeteries. On March 7, ALL 100 US Senators signed a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, and FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday asking for “swift action” over repeated bomb threats against Jewish organizations around the country. It is extremely rare for the entire Senate body to send a letter on any topic.
A Silver Lining
To end on a positive note, I am heartened that there are many people who do understand both the enormity of what is happening in America today and the need for people of different faiths and ethnicities to support each other. A Muslim group leapt into action immediately with an on-line fundraiser to help repair the damage with a goal of $20,000. “Through this campaign,” the website read, “we hope to send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate, desecration, and violence in America. We pray that this restores a sense of security and peace to the Jewish-American community who has undoubtedly been shaken by this event.” They reached their goal within three hours. They now state that they will donate part of their total, currently $135,316, to the Philadelphia cemetery that was also damaged. An impromptu cleanup crew worked at our cemetery the very next day, including Muslims, Jews, Christians and even U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. Pence happened to be in town for a scheduled visit to an area business.
Use their story as inspiration to find your own voice in your own community wherever you are in the world. As the late American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Don’t be silent.
How do you speak up against injustice?
This is an original post for World Moms Network by Cindy Levin. Photo: SKDK-TV.
As part of World Moms Blog’s collaboration with BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood®, our World Moms have been writing posts on maternal health around the world. We have made it to the finish line, and this is the last and 24th post in the incredible one-year series!
Orana Velarde in Srilanka interviewed 8 mothers in Sri Lanka and discovered a diversity of new baby traditions:
“Recently, my family and I moved to Sri Lanka, an island country in the Indian Ocean, off the southeastern coast of India. I know, not your everyday, run of the mill motherhood adventure, but that’s my life!
Once here, it was not long until I began to wonder about the customs and experiences of the local mothers. Sri Lanka has four official religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. Every religion has different beliefs and ceremonies, which makes this land a very rich cultural experience. What was I missing out on? What would surprise me? So, I took to my local mother’s group to interview some moms, eight of them, in fact! The results were exciting…”
Read the full post, Sri Lankan baby traditions: Shaved heads, chanting and more!, over at BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood®!
Thank you to BabyCenter for the opportunity to provide content on maternal health from around the world this past year, and thank you to all of our World Moms who participated in the series!
If you’re a parent, or a child, or anyone, you may have heard the phrase. “It takes a village” (to raise a child). After reading a post written by a fellow contributor, KC, I remained in thought about this village that’s needed to raise our children.
KC is currently a stay-home-mum to a precious toddler, so you know she has one of the most rewarding and challenging positions in the universe; one weighted with a lot of responsibility, as well. Thankfully she takes the time to write about some of what’s going on in her world as a mum, a woman, and as a person, because out of her writing I found something I want to discuss, too. Check her out at http://www.mummyintransit.com. She is a really good writer, and she’s funny too.
In reading KC’s post I thought about my own experience as a child in Italy, a teenager in Tanzania, and an adult and parent in the United States. What was my village like? Who did my mum include in forming my personality and my worldview?
I think it’s important when raising a bi-cultural child to find a balance between both the mother’s and the father’s upbringing and cultural backgrounds. The truth is, it’s not always that simple. As a single mom who is raising a Half-French, Half-Egyptian boy, I can say it’s quite tricky most of the time. My son’s father is not very involved in his life. He is around, but Skype chats are not the best way to establish a peaceful and steady relationship while teaching a young child about a far-away culture.
I decided that I could be the one talking about this other part of who he is. We started with a small photo book that I built from photos that I took on a trip when we were still married, showing the country, the village where his dad grew up, his dad’s family members and some nice spots around. Whenever he wants, he can ask me to have a look at it.
We have other resources at home, such as books and songs. I don’t speak Arabic but I know a couple of words, so we learn them together.
As he is growing up, I am keen for my bi-cultural child to know the culture from another perspective: the food and tastes of Egypt, the colors, the history, the way people are living, and how they are different from us.
For this, Internet is of great help.
When it comes to religion, I use books. I am interested in religion in general and I’d like my son to learn more about it. As his dad and I could not agree on anything, I decided not to give my son any religion. He will choose later. Still, we are talking about it, about Islam and Christianity.
As a matter of fact, I wanted to take him with me to Egypt, but right now things are too hectic and crazy with his dad. So I made a long-term plan to go to Egypt with him, when he’ll be old enough to travel without any worry.
Some days I would love to have somebody to do this for me, somebody I could rely on when I don’t have answers to some of his questions, as I have my part to deal with too. I have to be careful not to overdo things and accept that sometime my child does not want to hear about his dad and his dad’s story.
But I have to say it’s a relief that I don’t resent the culture and the man. It is helping my boy to know about his roots, the roots that will help him grow stronger and understand that our world differences are a chance.
And you? Tell me, how are you teaching your bi-cultural child about cultural differences?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Marie Kléber of France. Photo credit to the author.
Photo: Courtesy of Mona Haydar
In the age of cellphones and social media, it’s very easy to disconnect from people without realizing you’re doing so. How many of us create walls subconsciously, especially if it concerns people of different nationalities we don’t usually associate with?
I was struck by a story of a woman who decided to set up a stand outside of a library in Cambridge, MA. Inspired by a story her husband saw on NPR titled “Ask an Iraqi”, Mona Haydar thought that it was important for her to establish a connection with those who may not know what’s it’s like to be a Muslim, especially a Muslim woman living in the United States.
For Haydar, setting up a stand titled “Talk To A Muslim” was a way for her to dispel any preconceived notions or stereotypes so many have of foreigners, especially of Muslim women.
With so many crises affecting different nationalities, in light of events happening in Syria, Haydar’s goal of creating a physical stand and waiting for people to approach her was a bold move since she had no clue how it would be received. What was surprising and hopeful was that people did stop by and spoke with Haydar, and that was a start. She was quite surprised to see how people did respond to her stand and while the reception was initially uncertain, it was enough for her to think about setting up the stand again.
In the current climate regarding people of cultures we aren’t familiar with, not willing to find out about them says more about us than them. There shouldn’t be a division of “them” and “us”, but unfortunately, there is.
How many times have we been guilty of giving in to fear of the unknown instead of taking a step back and dispelling the stereotypes we have learned about other cultures?
As someone who has had to answer questions about my nationality or religion over the years, the initial offense I felt has made me rethink of how people perceive me. Over the years, I have been mistakenly identified as either Korean or Japanese, rarely a Filipina. In addition, since I’m married to a Jewish man, I have been asked whether I’m a convert or adopted due to my Jewish maiden name, and to which I answer “no” to both. Answering these questions over the years, my frustration over being categorized primarily due to my physical appearance has made me realize that it’s not because of ignorance, but lack of communication. Asking questions and conversing about each other’s cultures would go a long way than being presumptuous about other people’s lives.
After reading about Haydar and seeing the NPR segment titled “Ask An Iraqi”, it made me wonder if we should put ourselves in Haydar’s shoes. Should we have to set up a stand in order to be understood or be compassionate towards others? Have we become so desensitized by our own prejudices that we have no room for being tolerant? I would hope not. Haydar’s stand may just be one form of starting conversations regarding one’s culture, but I think it’s an idea worth exploring. We might just realize that we may not look alike, but we all share the same intrinsic values of goodness towards humanity.
Read the original article regarding this post Here.
How do you think we can nurture better cross-cultural understanding?
This is an original post written by World Moms Blog Contributor Tes Silverman of The Pinay Perspective
When I was about 5 years old, I had a best friend. One of those you never forget. We did everything together but one of the things we liked best was to travel to outer space courtesy of my best friend’s older sister, Kiki. By bedecking her room in blankets and scarves and with the assistance of a swirly office chair, Kiki would take us past comets…to planets untouched by girl-kind.
Many years and many lost and remade connections later, I was thrilled to visit with Kiki last summer at her home near Palma de Mallorca of the Balearic Islands in Spain; not far from where my own parents live.
It turns out that Kiki is still taking people on exciting and unlikely journeys….only now she does so with a camera crew in tow. As a journalist and correspondent for the UK’s Unreported World, she takes people from Northern Uganda and the side of a 15 year old deaf boy with no means to communicate, to the front lines of the Kurdish resistance in the battle with Isis and the families caught in the cross hairs.
Since my last visit with Kiki was on a perfect summer day with our sons in the pool, I had to ask her what drew her to leave idyllic Mallorca to pursue these stories. (more…)