Racism Keeps Us from Seeing Each Other as Fully Human

Connor and Brandon Moore, ages 4 and 2, are believed to be Hurricane Sandy’s youngest victims. They were swept out of their mother’s arms by the storm.

(Image from here.)

When I first heard reports of this story, I couldn’t make sense of it. The news reports said that the boys’ mother, Glenda Moore, had been “denied refuge.”  Why would this happen? How could this happen?

Then, reports came that their mother – the woman asking for refuge from the storm – was black (the boys’ father is white but wasn’t there).  And, then the story seemed to come into a horrible kind of focus, that implicated racism.

This story is being compared to the infamous ‘Kitty Genovese’ story from years ago in New York – when a young woman was stabbed to death and her neighbors did nothing to help. The not-often-told part of that story is that Kitty Genovese was a lesbian, and that’s part of why her neighbors didn’t call police on her behalf.  Her status as an ‘Other’ (lesbian) made her seem less-than-human to her neighbors.

This week, in Staten Island – the ‘fifth borough’ – people there, if reports are accurate, were blinded to the humanity of a mother and her two young sons because of racism.

Ultimately, racism blinds us to our shared humanity, keeps up from seeing each other as fully human, and in need of each others’ help. This time it cost two young lives, and we are all little less for it.