I never paid a lot of attention to black history month and have even fallen pray to the “why isn’t there a white history month” mentality.
I’m not old enough to have lived the atrocities that existed in the past. I have to admit that even though I felt sympathy at the types of things that I read about, I didn’t really “feel the pain” in a gut wrenching manner. It was something that I understood was horrendous but it was mostly all before my time. It was inexcusable but it didn’t really seem to effect me.
I’ve been contemplating the act of forgiveness lately. I also heard a program on NPR today about the civil rights movement. It just occurred to me the strength that black families had to have to get to the point of forgiveness.
I won’t profess that there is no longer discrimination. I think in some form it will always be with us. For some it is easier to hate differences instead of celebrate them. I think this originates in fear of those differences. But I do think that for the most part things have improved. I can only vaguely remember race issues growing up.
Some peoples hatred is still openly exhibited today though, for no offense other than I person has a different skin color. I few years ago, I was having supper at a restaurant in town. The waitress was very sweet, but things looked like they were hectic. I stated that I appreciated her and commented that it looked like a difficult day. She said, “you have no idea, the kind of day it has been”. She then related her story.
She said that a customer had asked for another waitress because he didn’t want to be served by a black waitress. She said she would get him another one because she didn’t know how to be anything other than black. After this man had so openly acted toward her with hatred, she only tried to return the injustice with humor.
I asked if the manager “threw” him out. She said no, that she didn’t say anything until after the customer had left. She said the manager said she didn’t have to put up with that sort of disgraceful treatment and to please alert him in the future. She didn’t put a lot of anger into the whole issue. It was just “one of those things”.
My heart ached for her and I told her so. I also complimented her on not letting the lousy creep bother her. He sure enough bothered me and I didn’t witness it first hand. Surely, emotional acts like this have to be as damaging to the soul as physical damage is to the body. It must take a strong spirit to deflect such hatred instead of taking it in a nurturing it to use against someone else.
But I wondered just how deeply these sort of things would have to bother you. No one ever likes to be treated like they are “less than”. And no matter the circumstances, no one is “less than” another human being.
Today when I heard the program, I thought of this brave young woman. Making the simple and profound act of forgiveness. I hope for the day when such acts are not needed.
I hope that in my own life, and in each of yours that you can make the profound decision to forgive those that do inexcusable and inhuman acts. I hope that we can do this for ourselves and for the ignorant and hating individuals that perpetrate such acts both small and large. I think this is the best gift that we can give to humanity.
We have made strides but we can’t continue to make progress without actual effort to move forward and the acknowledgment that black history is a part of all of our lives, because it is “our” history no matter what our skin color. I look forward to the day when it will be so foreign that it will almost seem to be fiction instead of actual history.