My grandmother shouldn’t have to go through that again. She shouldn’t have to witness the same vitriol – the hate speech and rhetoric, the violence and murder – that halted her childhood in Nazi Germany.
My beautiful, selfless, fierce grandmother shouldn’t have to relive the fear and pain she felt when she learned her little half-sister was stripped of her individuality and reduced to a number – 165 – and transported to her death at Auschwitz.
My grandmother, who converted that horror into the fuel for an unbounded sense of social justice and action that’s extended across multiple continents, shouldn’t have had to weep the same fearful tears in 2017 at the news Neo-Nazis would be holding a “Patriot Prayer” rally near her home in Berkeley that she did as the German Nazis rose to power all those years ago.
Most importantly though, my grandmother shouldn’t have to wonder why no one stopped it again. Why didn’t anyone speak out against the hate? How could neighbors look the other way when people were roused from their beds in the middle of the night and day, never to return to their homes?
And thankfully, she didn’t. My grandmother was able to witness thousands of people rise up, join together and stand in unity against the fascists. Not only did she witness it, at 80 years of age, she participated.
She marched alongside people of all races, religions, sexual orientations and beliefs to send a clear signal — we will not tolerate your hate. And for that, I am glad.
She inspires me to do a better job of using my voice to call out the injustice, racism and oppression I see around me; to direct my time, energy and expertise to fostering greater equity; to have the hard conversations to get my fellow white people to see the brutality in their beliefs.
I have to.
Because my grandmother shouldn’t have to go through that again.