Today, I felt it. Fear. I am a white woman. I live in a white community. I have never in my life been afraid of a black man, because in this country a black man who has any difficulty with a white woman fears for his life. I have dated and loved any number of black men, including the man who truly raised me, my Jamaican godfather. They are not the enemy.
My father’s family was killed in the Holocaust for being Jewish. I don’t have a religion so I can’t say I’m a Jew. But by the standards of the time in Nazi Germany, I would have been. I’ve never been afraid to be a Jew in this country, because all the killings happen at Temples, where I do not go. But I am.
I have always been a controversial public figure, not afraid to speak my truth. During this time of pandemic, I have started two nonprofits, one sewing face masks and the other a local task force. I have written letters to the editor to try to persuade people to stay safe. I have become a controversial figure. I realized that when my accountant recently asked me why I did these things, and wasn’t I aware that all mainstream media was now just an outlet for criminal black anger, and you couldn’t find stories about white people anymore.
Even then, so what? She has her own opinion.
But it’s the 4th of July and I’m all alone in a house in the middle of nowhere with all my family up North. Did I mention I work for Planned Parenthood? And there are shots going off and trucks driving real fast and a lot of noise, and for the first time in my life I felt it. Fear. Fear that the right-wing, gun toting, anti-mask, pro-racism, anti-woman, people who are my neighbors might just want to have a little “fun” with me tonight. As a thunderingly loud truck came close to my house amid pops and bangs I could not identify, I was for a moment worried that my white woman status would not protect me here. That they might come for me. Knowing I was alone in the house. Wanting to shut me up.
That’s the closest I have ever been to being worried about my safety, and truly it was ridiculous. But now, NOW I can understand how people of color feel in this country every day of their lives. Next time, will they come for me?