I Don’t Think You Understand.

Photo credit whereslugo @ unsplash.com Written by Calvonia Radford

“Wisdom is the principal thing: Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7

If you have ever held a conversation with anyone, you know what it feels like to be misunderstood.

We have been misunderstood by our parents and siblings. Our spouses have misconstrued what we said. Co-workers misread our emails. Even our body language is misperceived.

Dictionary.com defines Understanding as being sympathetically aware of other people’s feelings; tolerant and forgiving.

Over the last few weeks, our nation and ultimately the world has been experiencing racial unrest. Current events have caused feelings of despair and disgust to resurface in black and brown people catapulting many into the streets to protest for justice. They march with signs, yelling chants. Some can be heard saying, “Black Lives Matter”.

The phrase “Black Lives Matter”, rather chanted or scribbled on cardboard incites negative feelings in those with less melanin in their skin. Instead of compassion those words reap confusion, defensiveness, and deflection. Before you know it, we are hurling negative comments back and forth like a boomerang.

“Only if we fought just as hard to understand as we do to disagree.” Anonymous

I invite you to get an understanding. Allow me to share a few things about being black in the good old US of A.

  • My father participated in sit-ins and the March on Washington. He served in the Navy during the Vietnam conflict but returned to Jim Crow laws and.
  • African American’s are passionate, loud and animated. Unfortunately, people in authority can misinterpret our method of communication as anger and rage.
  • The house where I grew up was down the street from our county courthouse. My grandparents showed me the tree where people they knew had been lynched. They said white people would bring their children, spread out a blanket and eat while they watched the show. My family doesn’t have picnics. (code for pick a negro) We don’t use that word
  • A family friend who lived in Pennsylvania sent me a brown doll when I was around six. It was the first doll I had ever seen that looked like me.
  • In elementary school, a classmate asked how I knew when I was clean.
  • When I was a young child I would accompany my grandmother to babysat for white families in our small town. In most of these homes, my grandmother addressed the ladies of the house as Mrs. and responded to them with, “Yes, Ma’am”. Yet, the children in these families called my grandmother, Viola.
  • I was in the sixth grade before I had another person in my class that looked like me and I only had one brown skinned teacher.
  • My parents subscribed to the Jet and Ebony magazines so that I could see a person of color on the cover. Usually, that person of color was fair skinned.
  • Rarely did I see a person of color on television, other than in a subservient role.
  • When my daughters went on camping trips with the girl scouts or to 4H camp, I worried they would get picked on when their hair got wet and kinky.
  • It is difficult to find products for my hair. Once when we asked a Kroger staff member where the black hair care products were, she led us over to the cleaning supplies. She said they didn’t have room for them in the hair care section.
  • Before I go to a new stylist, I need to call first to see if anyone knows how to do ebony hair.
  • It is hard to find makeup for my complexion.
  • I can count on one hand with fingers left over how many times I have worked with other brown or black people.
  • As a Mary Kay Consultant, I was attending a weekly team meeting. One lady complimented another ladies’ tan. And then she said, “Honey you better be careful, before you know it, you’re gonna be darker than a nigger”.
  • When I meet strangers and share that I live in Kentucky, they often ask if I know so-in-so. So-in-So is always some black person. Do they think we all know each other?
  • When I owned a childcare center, I would schedule a tour with prospective parents. On several occasions, when they asked for me and saw that I was black, they changed their minds.

I don’t share these glimpses of lived experience for pity. I share to help you get a better understanding of who I am. I am unapologetically a black woman but more importantly, I am a lady with stories. I am a life that matters.

Prayer

Father, here we are again. Asking you to heal our land. Send a revival that will turn this world upside right. Let it begin in us. Illumine our understanding. Help us to see each other as you see us. Help us to learn to love unconditionally. Help us to seek wisdom and in all our getting seek to understand. In Jesus name, Amen

Points to Ponder:

Do you have any friends of color? Do you know their stories? Reach out to your friends and ask them about their lived experiences. Ask God to help you see them as He does.  

© (2020) by (Calvonia Radford). All rights reserved.

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Author: realtalk859

Hi, I'm Calvonia. I'm so glad you stopped by. I'm a small town girl with old school ways. So come on in, share of cup of hot tea and a real conversation. I've shared my life with my husband, lover and friend, Moses for most of my adult life. Our union has been blessed with three children a couple of in-loves and a few grandchildren. We are so blessed. I love God more than words can articulate and sharing his word and his love with my sisters literally makes me smile. Enough about me, let's talk about Jesus!

22 thoughts on “I Don’t Think You Understand.”

  1. As a long time reader I thank you Calvonia. As a Caucasian American, I WANT to understand and learn, but it’s so hard to know where to start. Your comments brought tears to my eyes but hope to my heart. I pray that one day we will all join together in unity as children of GOD and have the sympathy and understanding our African American brothers and sisters need us to have. ❤️ Much love to you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jodi Via, your words warm my heart. I struggled with the decision to write this blog post, because I was concerned how it would be received. Thank you for being a faithful reader and for your willingness to learn. You started when you read this article with an open heart. I pray God gives you opportunities to Lear more and grow in your relationships with people of color.

      Like

  2. Calvonia,
    I love you for the comment you left on my post Silence Speaks Volumes. It really touched my heart and gave me the courage to share two personal stories in my latest post. I hope you can make your way over to read it. Being black in the US of A is something else, isn’t it? I shook my head the entire time reading this post and got angry because Lord knows I can relate. Sending you to cleaning supplies for hair products? I can’t! Help us, Lord. One good thing came out of this civil uprising…I met you through Lauren’s willingness to participate in the conversation. God is faithful. I plan to keep sharing my stories and I look forward to reading more of yours. We are in this fight together sister.

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  3. Hi Calvonia,
    Thank you for opening my eyes to things I never knew about our different, yet shared experience. I love you,
    Lisa

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  4. I so appreciate you writing this blog post, Calvonia. We need to know these stories, even though they are so hard to hear (but how much harder to live them!). Thank you. I wish I could go back in time to ask better questions and listen more intently to stories of racism among my Black friends when I was back in school. I was blind to most of their struggles, not realizing that it existed as much as it did and as it still exists now. As an adult, I am so grateful for the patience among my Black friends who have shared experiences with me. I am so very sorry for the systemic racism and White privilege that we Whites have had the audacity to ignore for far too long. I’m praying that this go-round we will make major strides forward and not stall. Lives depend on it.

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  5. Cal, thanks for who you are in the Lord. May the words you’ve placed on this blog accomplishes all that God has attended for it to do.
    Stories like these are so needed in hopes that others feel how it is to be a girl/woman of color and how doing normal everyday things in public are at times filled with prejudice and racism.
    It’s sad that we are still dealing with this issue in 2020.
    God is doing a great work in you.

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    1. Bless you, Robin. You have always been one of my biggest cheerleaders. I don’t take it for granted. Blessings. We will get through this together. I appreciate your prayers.

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  6. Calvonia, Thank you for sharing this. Thank you for being vulnerable. Thank you for giving insight to those of us who have never lived through the things you have faced. It breaks my heart to know the things that have been done to you personally and to black people all over this country. I’m sorry that even those of us who care haven’t listened the way you needed us to listen. You are such a beautiful spirit. I have known you to have a smile that lights up everyone around you – and rarely seen you without that smile. The warmth and love you send out is palpable. Please keep sharing your stories so that I can understand better and share your stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sarah, your words encourage me. Vulnerable is the correct word. Not knowing how the information will be received in a time when people are hypersensitive is scary, to be honest. Your comment and the comments of others on this post have confirmed that now is the time to give the world a glimpse of our struggles. Thank you so much for reading.

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  7. There are no words to justify the painful experiences you have been thru…except that people are truly ignorant about those who are different skin tones – my white self included. Having grown up with one black student and one Asian student in the entire school, I really had no interaction with cultural differences. My parents always taught me to be kind to all – regardless of race, sexuality, or any other difference seen or unseen. It is because of my parents that when I think of different races I think of positives- such as your beautiful skin coloring being the most spiritual people and the most God loving race on earth. Your daughter has taught me so much over the years – she has laughed at me as she has educated me about the difficulties of her life whether it be hair product availability or personal heartbreaking stories. I am privileged to have your family in my life- keep up the excellent work on informing people. I am one that does not want to remain in ignorance. May God’s love and peace continue to guide your writing:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Amanda. I forget we are not family. God knitted us together years ago and I am grateful. I appreciate your willingness to learn. Building relationships with people who don’t have your same lived experiences and learning to actively listen is what it will take for us to move forward. Bless you my sister.

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  8. Mom, this blog…. whooooooo. It’s too much yet it’s not enough. It’s overwhelming yet I want to know more. Thanks for your vulnerability and I’m so sad you had this many stories to share.

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    1. If you only knew how I struggle with rather to share these stories or not, waiting for that gentle nudge from God. Thank you for reading and bless you for choosing to feature my piece this week.

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  9. Hi Mrs. Calvonia,
    I was so honored to meet you awhile back at NBC, and I love your daughter. You might not remember me, and that’s ok. I wanted to thank you for blogging. I have been considering doing the same, but I am very unfamiliar with the internet and how those things work. But the reason I have been wanting to blog has been to open up the dialog and to try to build unity instead of division. Looks like there are a few already out there doing that! THANK YOU again!
    Cindy Hoover

    Like

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