• Current Reading List

    Peaceful Action, Open Heart - Thich Nhat Hanh*** Eat, Pray, Love*** Peaceful Living - Mary Mackenzie(daily reader)*** The Vein of Gold - Julia Cameron (this is a read a chapter a week type book)*** Dubliners - James Joyce*** Nursing: The Philosophy and Science of Caring - Jean Watson*** The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Volume I***
  • Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I, I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.
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Experiencing Prejucide First Hand

Okay, so I have been MIA for quite some time, and I have likely lost what small readers I may have collected. Lots and lots of reasons for this, but my passion for writing remains…it has just been buried under a lot of spiritual and physical heaviness that I haven’t been able to shake on my own. This past weekend, an event occurred that has shaken me to my very core and has given me the motivation that I couldn’t dredge up alone. (I sure hope this doesn’t mean that it is going to take personal crises to get me to write on any kind of consistent basis!, but I digress)

I have determined that it is impossible to really understand prejudice, the lived experience of prejudice, by reading about it or hearing about it etc. The only way to really understand it at a core level is to have experienced it directed at yourself or a loved one. Scratch that too, maybe it is really only possible to fully understand its devastating impact if you have experienced it directly yourself. A big part of me hopes that is not true, because then the emotional turmoil that I am currently experiencing only scratches the surface of what my husband must be experiencing right now. Words don’t seem to adequately describe this experience, but those that come close are fury, helplessness, despair, devastation, impotent rage. Not enough…I feel like I need to create new words to describe the impact of this experience. I want to rail against something, wring justice out of the ether, make this somehow right again, and figure out how to recreate my shattered sense of personal safety and security. Those tasks seem impossible in the face of an insurmountable wall of injustice and I am left with a quivering impotence and fury at our failed justice system and a general feeling of wrongness of it all.

My husband sustained physical injuries last Friday as a result of a violent and unprovoked attack. The assailant fit the stereotypical image of a skinhead: White, shaved head, and large and muscular to the extent that steroids must be suspected. My husband almost fits the stereotypical image of a middle-eastern man: Tall, beautiful brown skin, dark eyes and hair, and on this particular date he was unshaven for several days (and as fast as his dark thick facial hair grows, this means he had the beginnings of a full beard).

Almost as devastating painful (and perhaps upon further thought, even more painful), as the violent attack itself were the events that followed and the failure of our legal system to protect us, validate the wrong that occurred or take any swift action in attempts to right the wrong.

The attack occurred at one of the seemingly most safest places in the world – our YMCA. We were both working out. I was in another area of the gym, so was not a witness. Instead, a YMCA staff person found me dripping sweat on a treadmill and asked me to follow him. He said that my husband had exchanged words with another man, had been in a verbal fight, and that I needed to come calm him down. “Wait”, I said, “You must be mistaken, that doesn’t sound like my husband at all”. Not at all. Not my gentle sweet husband who has never even raised his voice to me. There must be a mistake. The man assured me that there was no mistake, and that I shouldn’t worry because no one was hurt.

I guess he failed to notice the lacerations, abrasions and contusions to my husbands face and arm. I guess the blood that seemed to be everywhere must have just somehow escaped his notice. Not a big deal right? Because it was a “fight”…Oh wait, let me get a dictionary….I thought a “fight” meant that two parties were mutually involved. I didn’t realize that knocking someone down in a surprise attack while hurling racial slurs and then continuing to hit them while they are in a position in which they are defenseless to protect themselves and then fleeing the scene constituted a fight. My bad right?

My bitter sarcasm is because this was the general stance taken by almost every person that could have helped  (I say almost because the doctor in the emergency room was very compassionate and as appalled by what happened as I would have expected the rest of the general populace to be). No one, not the police officer, not the staff at the YMCA, and later not even the district attorney took the time to ask my husband what happened and listen to his response. Because the only witness was a white woman (who happened to be with the assailant, but that must not have been an important detail), who was “vague” but said that they were “fighting”, my husband’s account of what happened was pretty much deemed irrelevant. Also irrelevant was the fact that the assailant ran away. There was never even a mock attempt at pursuing him.

Four days have passed and we have not been allowed to press charges. A detective is supposed to investigate sometime later this week. The members of the justice system that we have encountered have acted as if we were somehow the ones at fault. No one has spoken the words “I am so sorry this happened to you” or even hinted that any attempt at justice would be made. Meanwhile, this violent person has been allowed to get away scot-free, with not even a hint at repercussions. Is this really happening? Surely if I pinch myself, I will wake up to a world that is more just. 

I can’t help but wonder what would happen if my husband’s skin color was different. I guess it would have never happened to begin with. But if it had, I can’t help but think that some sort of justice would have occurred. And that makes me sad beyond words.