When I was a child, I was introduced to (or told about) grandmas and aunts with numbers tattooed on their forearms.
When I was a child, one of my very best friends was a Japanese American girl whose parents met in the internment camps of WWII.
As a child, this was just a curiosity. It was years before I understood what all this meant.
These things happen when a culture emphasizes tribalism, dividing into "them" and "us." It happens slowly, at first, fueled by fear and, often justifiable, outrage. In the lead-up to and throughout World War II, it was catastrophic, not only to whole groups of people, but to the moral fiber of the cultures involved.
This is among the reasons that I started the Civility Project. I saw my community devolving into "them" vs "us" speech. Whether intentional or not, when outrage leads to identifying others as NOT US, as STUPID, RACIST, DANGEROUS etc, any attempt at understanding is shut down. By "othering" people, we forget the human needs we all share: home, food, love, purpose.
To heal our communities, to prevent the growth of hate, we need to talk to one another. Share our stories. All of us.
The next organized opportunity here in Minneapolis is March 11, noon-4:30 at Susan Hensel Gallery. We will make buttons, write postcards, and talk.
You can do it in your community. Let's all strive to heal our communities, one conversation at a time.