That did not sit well with me. It felt like an accusation, and I was so angry that I didn't even respond. That never left me because I knew I wasn't going to allow that to be true. I wanted to look at people in a colorblind manner. And I always thought I had. I didn't want to see skin color when I saw people. I wanted to see them for them.
Until a couple weeks ago. I read a blog posted by a black woman who wrote about racism and the church. I've always loved this woman's wisdom and even applied it to my own life when it came to certain topics. But this blog hit different. While I love and appreciate every word she said, it forced me to confront something that I never realized. It forced me to admit and realize that I hold racial bias. That doesn't particularly make me racist, but I do hold biases and stereotypes. Not just against the black community.
The same day I read that blog, I had a conversation with a coworker about these convictions. That coworker is a black woman. The conversation started with actually talking about who we were and things we like. A getting to know each other stage. And in that conversation, she asked my thoughts about what happened with George Floyd. I gave her my honest thoughts, but this particular subject opened the door for me to share my convictions with her. I admitted everything that blog made me realize and we really dug into the conversation deeper. She accepted my admission with such grace and told me she understood it. I won't lie, it was nice. In a sense, it felt like a weight off my shoulders.
But the conversation stuck with me for a few days. I was so grateful that this woman showed me such grace and understanding, but I started to wonder.... was it because of what I said, or because of who I was. We had created safe spaces for us to be open. There was no malice or tension. And we knew each other already. Did she show me grace because she knew me?
I don't know.
I've been wondering what I can do to make a difference in this fight for justice. What can I do to make my voice heard? What can I do to show this community of hurting and angry people that their voices matter? And I made a decision. If I am going to use my voice to talk about it, to stand up for them, I'm going to listen first. And I've started to. I've started listening to these voices who feel oppressed and scared. I hate to admit it, but in listening, I'm learning all the things I can say and do differently in my everyday life. Things I never realized I was allowing myself.
My heart has been grieving these past few days. I've cried many times. If I want to see racism erased, it has to start with me. It has to start with things I shouldn't do or say, and things I should do and say. If I want to see better than I have to do better.
The words of that classmate may have been true, but I want it to be true as well. If I can't look at someone and see the color of their skin, I am undermining the person they are. We are all different. We are all unique. We are all individual. We are all one of a kind. I want to see every single person for all of that.
Including their skin color.