“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 which prevented him from walking in the front door of a restaurant to be served or to sit in the front seat of a bus.
- 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.
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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