Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) is a Jewish pogrom carried out by both paramilitary and German citizens on November 9, 1938. Some recognize it as a singular night where over 7,000 businesses, schools, homes, and synagogues were specifically targeted; but I see it as a decades long trajectory of when lives aren’t valued. Then their belongings, their businesses, their safety, their creations are worth even less.

Broken glass is a phenomenon we still know very well, a product of when racism is left unchecked and permeates every institution in society. Racism is engrained in authority.

When we see images of the aftermath of riots past and present, we recognize broken windows as a recurring motif. It’s an image burned into our collective nightmares. What is more difficult to consider is the chain of events that led to those jagged, glass shards. That is a more difficult conversation to have, especially with people who were (and are) complacent with dehumanizing others.

Speak out when you see authorities oppressing people. Broken windows are only the beginning.

Paintings based on photographs of the aftermath of Kristallnacht in Ahaus, Baden, Berlin, Munish, Munster, and Vienna, from US Holocaust Memorial Museum archives and Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center archives.