Back in the 1980’s, I was a child. A kid who had absolutely no idea that there were any differences between me and a black child. There wasn’t! I was correct in my young years yet over time that has changed.
It hasn’t changed because of who I have become. I have changed because of who society and life, in general, has formed me to be. Just like in the episode of Modern Family I constantly worry about offending the black family next door. Not because I do or say anything exceedingly heinous, but because unlike when I was a child I now worry about everything.
That everything I say or do in some way is going to be offensive. When you think like that, you are judging without even meaning to. You are saying in your head that they are different than you and have to be carefully stepped around. Well, they are not any different than you but they have been through a different experience than you which must be acknowledged.
You have to stop taking into consideration the color of the people around you. Start understanding the experiences people in this world have gone through first. That has formed them no matter what color they are.
How do you even go about that?
You open up a conversation with them without having any preconceived notions of what they are going to say and you just simply listen. Ask questions and understand that this is the world’s problem. That everyone, of every color has been on a different journey that has given them the feelings they have. Some are very valid feelings and others are based on something that is not true.
You need to learn how to uncover the truth and it takes much more than just knowing your neighbor. It takes digging deep and learning more about yourself. How did you get to the point where you feel this way about other races?
Figure out why you have these preconceived notions. If there are no valid experiences that brought you to these feelings then it is society forcing you in that direction not necessarily your own beliefs.
This is everyone’s problem. The United States is having major race relation problems and it needs to be solved.
Two people talking is the only way to open up lines of communication. Keeping your mouth zipped, unless you are going to be mean, is more of a hazard than opening up.
Don’t be afraid of your neighbor, instead talk to them.
As I child I visited my grandparent’s house frequently, while I lived in a town in the suburbs with maybe one black family, they lived right outside of Chicago. When I was probably about 9, I was playing at the park across the street from their house. I met the sweetest little girl with a beautiful voice.
She was about my age and singing one of my favorite songs ever “Lean on me”. I went up to her and started singing along. I had no preconceived notions and as we skipped to the swings and swung side by side that day, I was happy I had met a friend. We had a conversation about the dolls we like and then when grandma called I went home.
One chance meeting, and every day after I always looked for that girl at my grandma’s park. She was sweet and had a beautiful voice that I wanted to hear again. I never saw her after that day but, boy did I wish every time I visited. I wasn’t looking for the black girl but instead the girl with the beautiful voice, my friend.
My experience as a white woman has made me question the things I say. It has made me question the thoughts I have had. The thoughts have made me wish I was a child never thinking twice about the color of another person again. My experience, the people I have been around and the fear… mostly the fear of doing or saying something wrong have changed me.
I want to be who I was, not who I am. I need to listen to the experiences of other races to understand where they are coming from. They can’t just tell me how they feel because feeling without understanding an experience will not help.
That girl with the beautiful voice in the park when I was 9, I wanted her to know that she can always lean on me. She is my friend. Not my black friend but, instead just my friend with the beautiful voice.