15 September 2006

indignant

As long as I can remember, this has been the story of my existence.

Many times I have looked around and felt out of place. Many times I have felt misunderstood and alone. Am I sad about it? No. It is the world I was given. It is the world I have chosen. I have learned to live and love in this world. In many ways it has made me me.

Recently, we attended an event where we knew and were known by virtually no one. VERY quickly, I was aware of the differences between "us" and "them." I felt out of place. I felt uncomfortable. At first it wasn't that big of a deal, I've been there before. But then came The Look.

The Look. If you are "a person of color" in this society, you know the one I'm talking about. It has been directed toward me (and probably toward you) countless times. I've learned to let it pass (as I'm sure you have), and most times it does. Not this time.

This time, although several days have passed, it continues to burn in my mind. This time I am still disillusioned. I am still disappointed. I am still hurt. I am still angry. No, I'm pissed. This time it was different. This time I wasn't the initial recipient of The Look, I was the witness. This time The Look was directed toward my daughter... then my son... then me.

Today, as I think about it, I'm angry... for so many reasons. I'm angry that in 2006 this garbage still goes on. I'm angry that fear, hatred, judgement, prejudice, intolerance and ignorance continue to endure - that some people really won't change. I am angry that over 3000 Americans died in one day five years ago because of this crap. I'm angry that countless people around the world continue to die EVERY DAY because of this crap. I am angry that too many people refuse to see past themselves, speak without thinking and hate without realizing it. I'm angry about all of the socially, culturally, racially, socioeconomically, sexually and spiritually insensitive and ignorant comments I hear in casual conversation on a daily basis. I'm angry that I don't have a solution to any of this, and it doesn't seem that anyone else does either. I am angry that this woman presumes to know a damn thing about me or about my family based on what she thinks she sees.

I am angry because I am just as guilty as she is.

10 comments:

Niki said...

Abi,
I am so sorry. I was so pissed when this happened to me and so shocked that it did, and I didn't even think that you might go through this often. It was shocking to me to be judged by my skin color and I'm sad that you're right - so often it happens to people of other colors a million times more than me all the time. It is crap, and I'm sick of it. I don't know what to do about it. I'm trying to teach my kids to love everyone regardless of their skin, gender, religion, and sexual preference. I'm trying to practice what I preach. Who have I offended in this way unintentionally? We are to love EVERYONE and yet so often we forget and let our own fears and prejudices get in the way. Maybe because of the way Benny and I TRY to live our lives we'll make a difference and just maybe our kids will do better than we did, and theirs will do even better.

You are so much more to me than the color of your skin, as I know I am to you. But even that is just part of what makes us the beautiful creations God made.

I'm pissed for me, but even more for you since this really was out of the ordinary for me. Evidentally you get to deal with more stupid people than I do.

I love you Abi...I hope we can talk more about this soon.

Leah said...

you're black?

no but seriously... i'll kick their asses for you

i love you abi

Folayo said...

Being a square peg in a room full of round holes is never easy; regardless of the "difference." You need to keep that anger that you are feeling and remember it everytime one of these thoughts pop into your own head...that's the only way to make any change...be the example. I think Michael Jackson put it best..."I'm starting with the man in the mirror." ;)

btw...you ARE in Westminister

Folayo said...

Side note...I love that picture. Did you you take it?

Paula said...

my stomach hurts and tears well in my eyes as I read this my sweet precious Abi. You are one of the most beautiful women I know, inside and out. From the moment I met you I was drawn to your soul, to the light in your eyes, and the places inside you that are so deep and lovely. Places I know and that both you and I are yet to discover.

Tears are streaming now. I don't really understand the depth of your pain because I've never lived it in the way you have. But one of the things that upsets me the most is prejudice based on skin color. And yet, even as I am insensed by it, I know that having been raised in a primarily white culture I probably blow it myself sometimes, not understanding where another person comes from. Even in my most recent blog I had to admit that I judged someone because she looked different than I did. Did I really think that just because she wore a Kapp and a cotton dress that she wouldn't want to relate to me in my jean shorts?

Teach us, Abi. Some of us who were raised on a different road don't even know what might hurt you. It's like my friend, the ragamuffin diva, once told me--we in America are the result of years of racial tension and prejudice on all sides. We hurt without meaning to--and some hurt by meaning to. We're all trying to overcome that ugly part of our past in this nation and truly love and know each other without prejudice.

I love you, Abi. I loved you the very first day we talked. Help me to love you better.

Father,
I lift Abi's beautiful children to you. I know, as she pointed out in this post, that there will be people who don't know how to think about their beautiful skin. I pray that you will make them strong on the inside, totally convinced of your design as you formed them and completely confident in their beautiful and their place as your creation. I ask that you would use them to break down racial barriers and help your children of all colors understand each other. But for now, while they are young, I just ask that you protect them from censure. That you would surround them with people, both black and white and every other color that adore them and teach them they are beloved by you and your people. Let them blossom in the joy of being well-loved. Speak your tenderness in to Abi's heart and heal the hurts. Give her your truth.

Abi said...

Thanks for your comments, lovely ladies. I LOVE to know that mein kampf has provoked thought and sparked conversations in blog world and the real one. LET'S KEEP TALKING... we have SO MUCH to learn from each other.

By the way, the photo is not mine. It's by Darren Baker... I LOVE it too. So profound. SO poignant. It speaks to my soul.

libby said...

abs.
ahhhhhh. this is huge. and yucky. i think it is one thing to know that we have to develop thick skin for ourselves, but then to see our own children being judged hurts a thousand times worse.
my heart breaks for all the judgements that our little ones will face. and yet I know that in their brokenness is where they meet Jesus. as do we.
i love you always.
libby

Becca said...

Abi, this is a topic I have been thinking about lately. So far my boys get the beautiful comment everywhere we go. "Oh your boys are so beautiful". Most of the time the word beautiful means beautiful (I know I am biased but yes, my boys are beautiful). Unfortunately, though beautiful also means “different”. Yes, here in white small town Utah my little family is different and people are curious. Curiosity is ok. I understand that. But what scares me is that one day my boys will get the look you talked about. I know it will happen because we do live in an ugly world. I want to be able to protect my precious boys but I don’t know how. I am scared for them.

Becca

Anonymous said...

IT NEVER ENDS, DOES IT??????.
I HAVE TEARS IN MY EYES AND A PAIN IN MY HEART [BRINGS BACK OLD MEMORIES/HURTS TOO].
BUT WE SERVE AND WORSHIP A FAITHFUL AND LOVING FATHER AND GOD---SO, MY WONDERFUL GRANDCHILDREN ARE FINE AND BLESSED -- WILL BE STRONG IN THE LORD AND WILL "SURVIVE' AS WE ALL HAVE, AMEN.

LOVE YOU AND PAULY.

MOM

Abi said...

Amen, AMEN!

Becca, I'm sad I can't promise that your little guys will be sheltered from this. (I don't think ANY of us can be, really). Unfortunately, this is real. This is reality. With that said, however, I am not SCARED for your boys.

Sure they will get looks... you all will, but those boys are LOVED. They have been CHOSEN. I have to believe that love NOT HATE will endure. The compassion, truth and acceptance you and Jon demonstrate to those little guys will be the same love they extend to others.

Your family will face challenges (just like mine will) simply because you ARE different. Nevertheless, you... WE can CHOOSE to love. We can teach our children to love. We can speak to anyone and everyone who will listen and demonstrate this love. Most importantly, we can become aware of the hatred and judgement in our own hearts and EXPOSE it.

We have to choose AND TEACH grace rather than bitterness. How much better we AND OUR CHILDREN will be because of it.

A friend of mine from church wrote something that I though was so beautiful. He said, "I know that God does all things well and the diversity of his creation (including us) is only a testimony to His grandeur, awesomeness and Love."

So true. SO TRUE. Let us not forget.