Deb Ewing, our Project RACE Grandparents president noted the quotation below and wrote an essay for the times.
Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation1:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
First They Came…
The immediate storm is settling around the overturn of Roe v. Wade. We should be watchful of the quiet.
Since taking the role of Multiracial Grandparent Advocate at Project RACE, I’ve met a surprising obstacle in writing about this unique perspective: nobody wants to talk about it. The reasoning, as near as I can tell, is a sense of comfort and community. My daughter says she doesn’t talk to her son about being multiracial, because he knows his world is made up of all types of people: not only multiracial, but he interacts with Muslims, Christians, and Atheists. This makes me happy – normalcy and contentment is what we want for everybody – but as a grandmother I find it unsettling, too.
I currently live in the hotbed state of Loving v. Virginia, where, in 1967, laws against interracial marriage were found to violate the 14th Amendment. This is the same amendment Roe v. Wade found violated by Texas abortion laws in 1973. Extant supreme court judge Clarence Thomas wrote about Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 case protecting the 14th amendment rights of same-sex couples to marry: “We have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents.” He included Griswold v. Connecticut, which in 1965 established a married couple’s right to buy and use contraceptives. He didn’t, it seems, think about Loving v. Virginia, or his own marriage.
Interracial relationships have been legal as long as I’ve been alive, but they haven’t always been accepted. I remember making friends with a neighbor in East Texas, him saying: “You shouldn’t be talking to me.” But he stayed, and we talked. This was my first introduction to racism. As recently as 2012 I was messaging on Facebook with an old classmate – a white man. I hadn’t spoken with him since high school in Michigan. He immediately disparaged the predominately-black North Side of the city where my daughter lives with her multiracial family. I told him she lived on the North Side. He immediately revised his language, because that’s what racists do when they test the waters and don’t find them warm. They’re harmless, we’re told.
They aren’t harmless. Already the news tells of a 10-year-old girl who was transported to another state to abort a pregnancy. Any grandmother should be outraged by this child’s mental and physical health being abused by the system after being violated by a human.
Brown vs. Board of Education also falls under 14th amendment protection against racial bias. Ruby Bridges, the first child to attend de-segregated school, is still alive. These rights shouldn’t have to be protected by federal law. They shouldn’t be stripped by state law. The 14th amendment was created to ensure that all Americans had equal access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Normalcy and contentment.
Removing these protections, which shouldn’t be necessary, is dangerous to people who cannot or do not want to simply move to another state. There’s no guarantee that their new home state would keep protections in place.
“No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” – this is in section 1 of the 14th Amendment.
I’m unsettled. Please watch carefully.