I don’t live a segregated life. I’m surrounded by people who aren’t like me constantly. And I love it. It wasn’t always this way. There was a single African American in my entire high school class of 750 people. No lie. One out of 750. He was in my friend circle and I always enjoyed his company. That wasn’t the feeling everyone had though.
Half my patient population is people of color with the majority being senior African Americans who grew up in the Jim Crowe South and they are my absolute favorite people. Over 2/3rds of Wyatt’s class is made up of people of color. It always shocks me when I hear that people don’t interact with those who aren’t like them.
I know several racist people who wouldn’t even look an African American in the eye and it angers and frustrates me. I always call them out on it and I just plumb don’t understand how that can still be a thing in 2020. But it is. I know it is. I see it. I hear about it. I adore many people who live it.
For me, one of the best things I’ve ever done and that I think other people who are white and are having an issue understanding what is going on in our country can do, is to listen. Really listen to what those who have other experiences, other perspectives, are saying. Hear them. Respond to them. Ask questions. I’ve asked some pretty stupid questions and got back interesting answers that changed my view point on the world. And yet I still don’t get it because I cant fully get it because I don’t live it. But I can do my best to understand and I can support those around me.
One thing that grates on me every single time a major societal issue comes up is that people mistake posting on social media, opinion pieces, likes, etc...with actual help. One of the most powerful political cartoons I’ve ever seen, and now of course can’t find, is a black and white drawing of a person drowning surrounded by a dozen folks giving a thumbs up. This post here makes me feel better because I’ve gotten my voice out there but it does absolutely nothing to help the cause. The African American woman who left her appointment and headed straight to DC to join the protests can’t use my “like” in any meaningful way. But she can use the monetary support. The petition signature. The votes.
So I urge you all to write away but to also go out in the real world and provide assistance where and how you can. Listen to those around you who are angry, sad, hurting. And vote. Not just every 4 years for the president. Vote for your sheriff, your coroner, your city council. Vote for your governor and congressional representatives. Most local elections go uncontested. How stupid is that? Make local changes and be a bigger part of your local community.
And hug your neighbors. Reach out. Make sure they are doing ok. A lot aren’t.