Just Another Racist White Lady
Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at 11:22AM
Elena Taurke in Community, People of Color, PsychoZen Meets Life, Racism, White Privilege, Zen

I'm at Far Rockaway because it's the people's beach, not like those fancy beaches you have to take a special train to get to.  This beach has more kids, more festivities, more lifeguards, more noise, more of it all.  It's been a glorious day, playing in the water, watching the joyful families, letting the deep drone of the waves permeate my brain.  Because I trust everyone completely, especially people of color, I often leave my bag on the sand as I take dips into the healing ocean.  

As I'm getting ready to go home, I reach into my bag for something or other and suddenly discover that the pocket where I keep my wallet is completely empty!  Panic!  I shuffle around some more, maybe I was mistaken?  NO, it's really empty!  Could I have put the wallet in another pocket?  No, that doesn't happen anymore.  Or does it?  Was I absent-minded again?  No, the worst possibility, which I keep rejecting and then approaching is that someone has actually stolen it.  

Someone has stolen my wallet.  I see that the pocket with the metro card still contains the metro card, so, good, I can get home.  And I have my phone so I can cancel the cards.  Sad and disappointed, I tell the lifeguard and my neighbors at the beach about the theft.  They seem surprised, didn't see any suspects prowling around.

Oh, humanity!  At my Zendo recently, there have thefts and vandalisms of beloved hand-crafted items with little financial value.  Because we are a community of people sensitive to injustice, who attempt in myriad ways to disrupt attachment to objects, to encounter others as ourselves, these thefts have shaken us deeply.  We met to process our feelings, which included fear, rage, and also empathy.  And we also installed a camera and changed the door code.  Our teacher referred to an old saying about trusting but tying up camels.  Or maybe I'm getting that confused with Reagan's policy on the Soviet Union.

I take the point, even if I feel distant from its source.  Greed and rage live among us, so I'm not really safe anywhere.  I should not have brought so much cash, should have left my credit cards at home, should have asked someone to watch my stuff.  

Then, walking back to the train, I think to myself....Wait....the pocket where I keep my wallet was empty, but I keep other things in that pocket too.  It doesn't make sense.  It should also contain my earplugs and my lipstick and so forth.  Why would the thief have taken those things since he (I'm assuming it's a he) was selective enough to take my money but not my phone?  Uh oh. I reach into my bag.  It's a new bag, by the way.  I'm not familiar with all the pockets.  I reach into the bag, into the OTHER pocket, and it's all there:  money, cards, lipstick, earplugs...

Remorse. Not only did I suspect the joyful noisy people at the beach but I sowed more suspicions by telling people that there was a thief among them.  Would I have made this mistake on the fancy beach?  Maybe.  I hope so.  But I can't be sure.  

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