Written by Sara Chana Shields
My life was changed forever on February 26, 1992, when my mother, Pesya Leah Lapine, was stabbed to death in her home. My mother and I had just returned home from grocery shopping when a black man took her away from me. I don’t have any memories; I was just 2 years old. How can a young child cope with such cruelty? How can a young child believe in mankind? How was I able to continue the kindness that I was taught?
The Rebbe teaches us that, in the face of darkness we add in light. I must strive even harder to continue my mother’s legacy. No evil can stop kindness. No hatred can stop love. As Jews we have been persecuted time and time again, but we always rise above!
We must rise above racism. We know too well, the consequences of racism. One black man killed my mother. The black people did not. We cannot judge an entire race based on the actions of some individuals of that race. We must look beyond the color of a person’s skin. When I was a child, I was told a bad person killed my mother. The color of his skin was irrelevant. Each person is made in the image of G-d. Let us find the G-d in each person.
We do not combat racism by picking on another race. We combat racism by looking past race. We are so blessed to live in the United States of America. The UNITED states. Epluribus unum, out of many becomes one. Our differences make us who we are. Each race adds to our great country. We are all people with a breath of life. We are all people with potential. Through love each person’s potential will be brought out.
How do we get to the level of seeing people for who they are? When the power of our human intellect is to generalize, essentialize, and associate. It helps us function in society. It helps us differentiate between a chair and a table. Unfortunately, people often do the same to people and their race. They judge them based on their experiences, stereotypes or what they have been taught. This is wrong. Each person is an individual.
I am in charge of what I think, speak and do. If ever a negative thought comes to mind. I must push it away and replace it with a positive one. I choose to focus on the positive things that people do. There are more positive acts than negative ones. Naturally our mind remembers the negative events. When I needed help with bringing my stroller down to the subway, I was helped by a kind person.
When I went to the post office and had boxes to carry, I was helped by a kind person. When my sweet Bella was born, I was cared for by a kind person. All these kind black people outweigh the one person who killed my mother. Focus on the positive and train your subconscious to see each person as an individual. Through doing so you will break negative stereotypes.
The other day my 5-year-old daughter, Pesya Leah, and I went for a walk. As we walked Pesya Leah smiled and said hello, to each person. She did not see race. She saw people. She smiled at each person, the way that my mother would.
May Moshiach come speedily and put an end to all pain and suffering!