May 1, 2015
(This is part of a 365 project during my 70th year where I write and illustrate a blog on each day's gift.)
I tend to see many shades of gray between the black and white. Life is not binary. It is a continuum in all areas. Take gender, for example. When a baby is born, what are the first words that fall out of everyone’s mouth? Is it a boy or girl? Maybe the baby is 50% boy and 50% girl. It may have female genitalia but it will grow and develop into a much more complex human being than an either/or. When it comes to race, how many people can say they are all one or the other? How many Americans have Native American mixed in somewhere in their ancestry? How many African-Americans have some white blood mixed in? How many people are totally good or totally bad?
Because I see a continuum, it is difficult for me to think them versus us. Things are not that simple. My parents taught me empathy when I was growing up. They always reminded me to consider how other people might be feeling. Teachers, doctors and sanitation workers are people underneath their titles. I am unable to see someone as just having a title. This happened today at the demonstration in front of City Hall. I was drawn to a young National Guard black man. He had all the paraphernalia of a tough guy—the uniform, the weapons. But I had to wonder about the look on his face. There goes the empathy again! How did he relate to the black protestors? What was going through his mind? Did he wish he could be spending quiet moments with his girlfriend instead of standing guard?
Walking around Hollins Market area after we left the protest, David and I saw a Korean liquor store owner boarding up his business in anticipation of possible trouble. Some Korean business owners in the city have had their stores destroyed by looters. I feel so bad for them and at the same time, I feel the complexity of the protestors. Standing outside the boarded-up liquor store with my Nikon, I was approached by a black man who said, “A white woman with a camera!” It was not a threat. He asked where we are from and he said he was from New England but his father lives in Baltimore. He asked us to guess his age, we did and we were surprised when we guessed too low. I asked him to guess my age but he refused and said, “Oh no, I’m not playing that game.” Then he shook David’s hand, gave me a hug and wished us a good day. People are not binary. If you want to define with one word, let’s choose human.
My gift today was a hug from a stranger.
You can find links to my other posts on this project here: