How (where) to even begin - I am not the first, nor will I be the last to say, I am feeling utterly exhausted, sad, and just plain old angry. But, I think, confounded, dumbfounded, stupefied, and unbearably overwhelmed are the emotions that have consistently brought me close to the breaking point this past week.
Every time the news cycle tells the story of another person of color under attack or killed by a white person, my brain initially short circuits to disbelief. No! Not disbelief that it happened, yet again, but the thought that someone (a human being) is capable of hating another human being, enough to harm them physically, discredit them, destroy their integrity, or, straight-up murder them - simply because of the color of their skin.
The history of racism and white supremacy in the United States is monstrously long and ugly. To be clear, I am neither an expert nor a scholar of either. I am, however, a student of human nature. I am usually eager to learn why people behave in certain ways. Right now, I am merely appalled that right-wing terrorists are vigorously taking advantage of those who are suffering, and, justly protesting the right to be alive, to further their agenda.
Therefore, when it comes to systemic white supremacy, my interest lies in not understanding behavior, but where it comes from. How does one become a white supremacist? In my head, I know that the obvious answer is indoctrination. Nevertheless, there is no particular demographic that bigotry can be attributed to because it is found both in places of extreme poverty and enormous wealth and privilege.
I also recognize that covert racism is often hidden within comparisons between things that can not, and, should never be compared. Such as this argument against a living wage for those in the "unskilled" labor force: "I went to school to become a nurse (or, fill in the blank with another occupation) why should a food service worker (or, fill in the blank with another essential worker) make more than me?" These are folks who try to justify making equivocations, while indignantly denying their bigotry at the same time. The obvious answer lies within an irrevocably broken system - not with the people themselves.
The next question I have to ask is: how can we stop it from continuing in future generations? I know that I (we) can not (will, most likely, never) change someone's deeply held beliefs around race (which, as you probably know, is a human construct in itself - race does not exist except to say we are all part of the human race) through persuasive (or, belligerent) argument (in person or with comments on social media).
I can, however, actively model anti-xenophobia. I can use my immense privilege, as a white woman, to speak up as an advocate. I can normalize kindness, compassion, and empathy through my behaviors and language. I can express my humanity, with humility and respect for every human being, and I will expect those around me to do the same. And, most importantly, I can continue to provide a nurturing and trusting environment where young people are made aware of the injustices in the world and are given the opportunity to use their innate curiosity, creative ideas, and kindness to not only flourish but to help others do the same.
NYS is slowly and methodically re-opening. Phase Two began yesterday. If all goes according to plan, Phase Four (the last phase) will be open by the middle of July.
Other camps, including 4-H Camp Overlook, Cooperative Extension Day Camps, SLU Sports Camps, and Camp Unirondack have been canceled this summer. We have a much smaller capacity than any of those programs and we offer drop-in participation. We would like to provide programming, but only if parents indicate that it is a needed service.
Therefore, before we begin making plans to open our Summer Program - would you (local parents) consider registering your child for our summer programs? If so, beyond, mandatory masks for staff and youth, daily health check-in, fewer participants, sanitized surfaces, and plenty of outdoor activities, what safety measures would you like to see in place? And, lastly, when should we open, mid-July, or the beginning of August? You can get in touch through email or phone (call or text) to answer the above questions.