I have to laugh. The circumstances that led us here definitely feel dire, but as a minority this has been my normal, my every day for the last 30 something years.
That despair you feel. The injustice. The rage. Being profiled. Being ridiculed. Ideas put down. Voice drowned out. The feeling like just being you is somehow a crime against nature. That your very existence is an affront to some – yeah, that’s a Tuesday for some of us.
I, like many others, have grown up and experienced this negativity on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. I can tell you a story for every year of my life where I encountered racism. Sometimes, heart breaking. I just don’t share it with many people because it makes THEM feel uncomfortable. I’m comfortable in my own skin, I also took Judo for a few years and I carry bear mace on the regular.
But what happened recently changed this. For the first time, when I spoke with people I saw empathy in their eyes. Not sympathy, but a real understanding of the type of world we live in and my struggle.
When I used to rally and tell people that if they aren’t part of the solution, they are part of the problem – they’d roll their eyes. Tell me I was being overly dramatic. Tell me people weren’t that bad.
I still think most people are good, but I also think more of my acquaintances see what the rest of us already knew.
- That when I say I can’t fly through Turkey because I’m brown, you shouldn’t argue with me.
- That when someone says something inappropriate to me at a work conference in Vegas, you should believe me.
It’s not that I wanted everyone to suddenly jump to my defense, it’s just that I needed people to understand that being a minority never stops. I’m always, no matter where I’m at, constantly being confronted with what I’m not. This past week, I suddenly had a lot more vocal allies. It felt…like a relief.
Like suddenly, a bunch of people I knew just opted into the rebel alliance. So while many people are mourning, going through various stages of grief…I feel…hope. I need to laugh and smile and I want to pass that feeling along.
I feel stronger. All the negativity is still there, but it’s like someone decided to reach out and help me weather the storm. #strongertogether