My kids asked what was happening in Charlottesville when violence erupted during white supremacists rallies earlier this year. I sat them down and told them as plainly as I could what happened. People had gathered and said they wanted all Jews to die, black people to die, and anyone with darker skin to die. Other people had come to say that wasn’t right, and the two groups had gotten into fights. My son looked up at me with his big brown eyes and said, “But WE are Jewish.” He is right. My husband’s family takes deep pride in their Jewish and Mexican ancestry, as they should. Like parents across our country, I understood the fear that my child has a target on their back.
We prayed over the community the night before the rallies. We used the good old buddy system to make sure everyone was together and safe. In a group of three, I found myself often saying, “Where is my person?” That phrase I think is symbolic of why I was there. I was there to say, “I am your person. I walk with you as you face violent people. I will not allow you to be left behind or take the risk alone. You are my person that I can go into danger because you are by my side. You are my person, not because of the color of your skin, your heritage, or your faith. You are my person because you are a person and your life is precious. Your life matters.”
The next morning we stood with counter protesters at the rally. We felt the wave of fear run through seasoned protesters when white supremacists were allowed to carry in metal and hard plastic shields that busted open heads in Charlottesville. A Jewish woman shouted Shabbat Shalom as they arrived, which is a greeting that roughly translates to Peace to you on the Sabbath. Across the street stood a group that had beaten her. And we stood together in solidarity, twice the crowd of those who had come together because of hate.
It was because of this and the news that our group of roughly 400 people had swelled to 1,000 ready for their afternoon rally in Murfreesboro, that the white supremacists canceled their Murfreesboro rally all together. We drove into Murfreesboro to a street lined with signs and the chant “No hate! No Fear! Everyone is welcome here!” In that moment I was proud to be American.