I’m on my second cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll – not my usual morning routine.

I’m baking cheesecake for my youngest child’s 16th birthday.

I’m on news overload, and I can’t stop scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, looking for something true.

Photos: Kelly Jordan, Detroit Free Press

My oldest was arrested in downtown Detroit Tuesday night, held with 126 other protesters in what was described by the city as a socially-distanced arena basement, but which – according to those who were there – was crowded and sometimes brutal (way to support the community, Ilitch family and Little Caesars). My 22-year-old was handcuffed with zip ties. They were loaded onto a bus. They lost their backpack, glasses and keys in the shuffle.


You probably care about this because I’m telling you a story about my white, Jewish child – the artist, the one who may have babysat for your kids. The one who wins writing prizes and is thriving at a top university.

But what about all the others? The ones whose parents can’t just say, “Go online and buy yourself another pair of glasses. I’ll pay for it?” The Black and brown folks who walk through life being profiled every day?

Did you know that the protesters were loaded onto crowded buses, then lined up side-by-side on the floor of Little Caesars Arena?

Can you say Covid risk?

Did you know that some of the protesters left custody bruised and bloodied?

Did you know that officers in riot gear called for the group to disperse, but also surrounded them on both sides? And then, when the crowd did not disperse, arrested 127 people?

Yes, protesters were out past the 8 pm curfew, but really? How were they supposed to get past the armored police officers? Run and hope for the best?

Say what you want about cops only doing their job, about law and order and the protection of property. We can have that discussion another time.

I am not telling you this so you will feel bad for my child. They are part of a group working with Michigan Liberation, serving as jail support, documenting what happens as people are taken into and released from custody, posting bail when necessary, offering rides home to those who need a lift, taking notes and photos outside city jails.

While they were not planning to get arrested Tuesday night, they are fully aware of the risks.

I am telling you this because it is easy to comfort ourselves with words: “Isn’t it too bad… Isn’t racism awful… I care, but really, what more can I do?”

I have repeated those words to myself for too long.

If you’ve been living with and fighting racism your entire life, ignore me on my soap box. But if you live like me and look like me, it’s time to step up.

Here’s what I am doing instead of wringing my hands:

  • Joining a family march on Friday in my very white town, a march that I hope will encourage the white folks among us, in our comfortable enclave, to recognize and challenge our privilege. And then to do more.
  • Reading How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. This book has been on my list for a year, sitting next to my bed for two months. I finally cracked it open.
  • Donating to The Bail Project, not because young people like my kid are getting arrested this week, but because I’ve learned that cash bail is just another manifestation of our racist criminal justice system. You can learn more here.
  • Listening to my children. They think my left-leaning liberalism is pretty weak. That’s their prerogative. I taught them to hate inequity, but I didn’t really do anything about it. They are taking action. The least I can do is pay attention.

These are changes I’m making within myself – working from the inside out – and ways I’m trying to support change in the world around me.

How about you?

Scroll through social media and you’ll find lots of books to read, funds to support, slogans to shout. You don’t need me to make you another list.

I’m a little jittery from all that coffee, queasy from the sugary pastry. The top of the cheesecake burned, and I had to scrape it off. I’m feeling off-kilter, unmoored.


Time to do something about the injustice I’ve tolerated for far too long.


6 thoughts on “Change

  1. It’s beautiful. Perfect. I am proud to be your partner and friend. XO Kim Lifton (she/her/hers) President Wow Writing Workshop LinkedIn Top Voices in Education

    Wow students and clients, click here to book an appointment *When it is time to meet, click here to join me on Zoom*

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Susan – tell your kids to register 1000 new voters or 10,705 new voters and then they will make real substantive change if they actually go out and vote on Tuesday, November 3.

    Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes.

    I was an Election Day worker in Southfield that day in November 2016 for the Democratic Party in a precinct situated on 12 Mile Road.

    ON THAT DAY HUNDREDS FEWER PEOPLE In that ONE PRECINCT came out to vote and the combined effect of that immense apathy was to hand Michigan to Donald Trump.

    As we see now elections do matter — every election matters.

    If it seems safe from contracting a virus (as I’ll be 65 next week) likely I’ll be working a polling place on Election Day to make sure that the election proceeds well. THERE AREN’T ENOUGH ELECTION DAY WORKERS and our systems for electing people are antiquated and don’t always work well.

    We need new technology and we need smart young kids running the polling places so that tech issues that come up are solved quickly.

    We can’t have 2 hour long lines on Election Day — people won’t stand for it and they might not stand around and then go Home and not vote.

    I know I saw that happen last November 2016.

    If we can get more people to vote by mail, if we can effectively process all those ballots by mail on Election Day, we might need a whole contingent of young people to process the ballots, process the people standing in line and make for a fair and just election process for all.

    It’s nice going to a demonstration — been there done that — and not withstanding the risk of Covid — what did these demonstrators accomplish. THE BALLOT BOX IS WHERE WE NEED TO SHOUT AND MAKE A STAND — NOT SHOUTING AND STANDING ON THE STREETS OF DETROIT.



  3. Sorry about your cheesecake. But, it was for a good cause. Thanks for writing this. Thanks for helping the next generation find their place in this world. We know why we have to stand up, It sounds like you and Kim make a good team. She has always been spot on.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The first thing we need to do is learn how to listen.

    I started out thinking that “all lives matter” was inclusive and meaningful. Throughout many conversations with the young people leading this call for change and listening to discussions, I came to realize that “all lives matter only when black lives matter”. I understand now that saying “all” discounts the enormous burden that brown and black people endure everyday.

    It has been a fascinating education and one that I hope more people will dive into.

    Here’s to stress baking and a good cup of coffee!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Susan, Lovely! I had never heard of Juneteenth until now. It seems that there should be at least a week of the curriculum dedicated to slavery and the aftermath until now. It shocks me to think that 1865 and prior was my only great grandparent’s generation. Not too long ago. While most of my great grandparents were dealing with racism against them at that time in Europe the form of Pogroms, they were not slaves. The reality is that they came to the US thinking that it was a place where they could be free of persecution. Yet slavery had only ben abolished 35 years prior. And institutionalized and systemic racism is still here today. I think that education is the key for all school. While integration cannot be enforced, I think we need to create opportunities for joyful integration so that children are not so isolated to think that people of other races and religions are so different from them.

    Liked by 1 person

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