I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I’ve now read the shocking news. It’s 5:45 am. I’m awake as usual; a product of my sadistic circadian rhythms and an ocean of regret.
The attack which has hit so close to home, 1,600 steps from my front door. A knife-wielding man entered 770 Eastern parkway and stabbed an Israeli student, before being shot by police. Blood spilled where I’ve danced, drank and prayed. But in all honesty that was not what I feared.
I feared the other shoe.
I trudged miserably through the December Rain I arrived at Shacharis, late as usual. Wet. Confused. Cold. Miserable. Scared.
Naturally,the “shul sshh-ers” lost before the battle had begun and we were all discussing the previous night’s events. I gleaned a few new details, such as the assailant’s death. And I waited for the other shoe to drop.
I prayed; as I always do with distraction and a helping of angst. Then, as the men of my shul were finishing up with their tefillin, somebody suggested we should say chapter 20 of tehillim (psalms) a common practice in prayer for a person recovering from illness or injury.
“should we say capital chaf?” some one asked.
“Why?” A young man answered. “The shvartze’s already dead.” Laughter.
I was repulsed. By the boy who made it. He doesn’t know better, but I was still repulsed. By the reaction. The inevitability. As a black Jew, it’s always coming.
There it is, what I always dread. The backlash. The race backlash It always comes. Sometimes, big. Sometimes small. But it always comes. Living in Crown Heights there are going to be incidents. There are going to be attacks, muggings, but with each one with it brings a new referendum of the entire black community, as if there is such a thing.
I have a confession. Whenever I see an incident of a Jew being attacked, in Crown Heights, there is a part of me–not an insignificant part–that hopes there is another Jew responsible. It brings me no pride to feel this way. It’s a secret I’ve held on to for years, but I hope for the problem to be from within the community. That way, the anger will be directed inward and not outward; and hopefully, there will be some amount of introspection or consideration. But not this time. Not now.
Blame the Mayor.
Blame the cops.
Blame the Blacks.
The accusations will start, followed by recriminations.
Then eventually, somebody will ask for my opinion, whether I want to or not. I’ve been interrogated about Trayvon, Ferguson, Knockout.
The knockout hysteria was the worst, because I was both looking over my shoulder and made to feel responsible. I spent many wasted hours trying to rationalize the attacks and explain how they were over-hyped by the media. It was as much self preservation as it was debate. And it always is, when it comes to these complex issues regarding race and the modern age.
But consider this. The thing that made the early-morning attacks so impactful, was that it could have happened to any of us in the community; Jewish, Lubavitch, Crown Heights. It was so directed, yet so random, that it’s impossible to not take it personally. It’s as if we personally were stabbed.
And for some of us, it’s like being stabbed twice.