I just returned from my first trip to the amazing city of New Orleans! What a place—rich in history and culture.
On the final leg of the trip home I sat reflecting on the warmth of the NoLa people and the pride associated with excellent products and services, when a man also traveling home from the South, made the following comment, “The only good thing about the South is the manners. People there really know their place and respect white people. They don’t have attitudes like these Mexicans over here.”
Maturity or maybe aging neurons provided me with the ability to pause before I engaged my mouth. My first thought. Did I just hear him correctly? Yes, I am wearing my glasses. (I swear I hear you better when I am wearing my glasses!) But this was someone my age or even younger…….hmmmm.
My second thought was why should I waste my energy responding to such a complete idiot? But….. I can’t just stay silent, can I? After all, communication is what separates us from apes…..
My neurons finally started firing on all cylinders and I managed to say this with a touch of icy calm, “Excuse me but everyone has a story and you cannot know the perspective of another person until you have walked in their shoes.”
May I point out I didn’t use any expletives? I zipped my lip. I gave him no fuel to further engage me on any topic whether it is race, immigration or even the weather. I am comfortable with my beliefs and I so much wanted to change his perspective but I deemed him a lost cause. I also deemed him a racist moron in case you thought I had gone soft in the head.
My choice is to expend my energy where I CAN make a difference but driving home I could not let go of that conversation. Isn’t this 2012? Don’t I live in one of the most progressive areas of the country? Why are we still judging people by the color of their skin? Where is his compassion for a fellow human being?
People!! Let’s not forget that the United States was founded by immigrants. Furthermore, we displaced the native people and exploited the cheap or even free labor of many others.
The beauty of this country lies in our diversity. Celebrate it!
The color of someone’s skin does not determine whether or not we engage with them in a kind, honest and respectful manner. For that matter, neither does their gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs and socioeconomic status. All people deserve respect. It’s really that simple.
“Treat others better than you wish to be treated yourself.” That’s what my Grandma always told us and that is what I wish to share with you.
From the heart,