Inspiration

I Have A Dream

  • I took my daughters of color to a Broadway show this weekend and I held them up to reach the water fountain
  • We stayed in a hotel several times last year together
  • We rode public transportation together through the city
  • We used the same stairwell and entrance to public buildings
  • I watch them walk into school where there are kids of all colors
  • We swim in public pools with people of varying races…

…these may not seem like a big deal to anyone in 2020, but in the lifetime of their grandparents, this would have all been impossible due to laws of segregation. Martin Luther King Jr’s speech in 1963 came ONE HUNDRED years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed into effect by Abraham Lincoln, and yet segregation was still in action and actively enforced.

Today we can look at life 57 years after MLK Jrs speech and while great progress has been made, I’d say we still have a ways to go. Our worlds might be legally integrated; however, we still live in segregation. Most people aren’t choosing to socialize outside of their race, religion, ethnicity, or socio-economic class. (take a look at the last 5-10 people you texted…how different are they from you?)

We strive to celebrate connecting with others who are different in my family, and yet my life continues to be filled with people who are more “the same” than “different”. It takes active seeking and planning in our current culture to connect with people who look and live differently than you do. So I have a dream…I have a dream that it won’t be uncomfortable for people to approach someone of a different background. I have a dream that a diverse elementary school would not be an oddity. I have a dream that the world will continue to grow to be more tolerant and accepting of all kinds of differences! Help me with my dream…go talk to someone who looks or lives differently than you do!

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr

Inspiration, mental health

#truthbombs about being judged

How do you handle being judged because you are different? I can tell you that my go-to is to judge “them” right back. I can tell you that my go-to is anger. I can tell you that I’ve had to WAKE UP about this in recent years…and it was a rough awakening.

I thought I was pretty woke when it came to stigma, racism, homophobia, being accepting, not judging, etc…but then my white privilege started to show and I had to do some work on myself.  (Don’t stop reading).  I didn’t even know what white privilege really was until a few years ago, in fact, the topic used to bother me because I felt like I was being judged for something that wasn’t my fault.  In short, white privilege is the freedom I was able to experience because I never had to experience the looks, stares, comments, eye rolls, and judgments of others over my skin. I never had to worry about whether people thought my parents were lazy because I acted like a damn fool (and I did act like a damn fool).  I never had to wonder if I would be asked to get out of my car when pulled over.  I KNEW in my heart that I could cry my way out of a detention in 6th grade (and I did).  These are not freedoms granted to persons of color and I woke up to this when I adopted my daughters, who are not white. I thought that because I had plenty of friends who were black, that I understood what their experience was.  I thought that because I earned an advanced degree in social work, that I knew about stigma.

I was not ready for the ceaseless comments about them, our family, their “situation”, etc.  I was so ignorant to the systematic racism that still exists and 5 years ago I would not have believed you if you tried to tell me.   I was not ready to experience (secondhand) the judgement of my kids by their peers, their teachers, the public…

Stay with me…

My first reaction was to judge them as ignorant. Live with anger. Try to shield my kids. But that was MY ignorance.  Ignorance is not an insult in this sense. Ignorance means “lack of knowledge” and I did have a lack of knowledge that led me to believe that my truth was the only truth and that my judging other people would somehow inspire them to change.  I was SO wrong. SO VERY WRONG.

So how do you become less angry when people judge you? You educate yourself. YOU educate YOURSELF. You learn about the other person’s point of view.  You need to wake the hell up to their reality and only then will you be able to have an understanding about why their truth has truth. Only then will you be able to put your own judgments aside and possibly have a relationship with the other person.

American culture is at quite a crossroads in my opinion.  We currently have people alive and interacting with one another that lived through segregation and integration. The criminalization of and decriminalization of gay marriage, women earning the right to vote, a first black president, the fear of radical Muslims after 9/11 and our current movement toward inclusion.  We are a nation divided on topics of sexism, racism, homophobia, religious freedoms, left vs right, etc.  I can tell you that the answer is not to judge and blame. The only way through this mess is to openly discuss our differences and WHY there is truth to “our side”…WHILE looking for the truth in “their side”.

Beliefs from childhood are very hard to change. So if someone is judging you, remember it isn’t personal…it’s likely that something about you is foreign to them and they aren’t sure what to do with it…so their natural inclination is to push it away/judge it/make a face of disgust. That is the same way you would probably react to something new/different/foreign.