our shared humanity
Yesterday evening, I went for my daily walk around a local park. At the start of my walk, I passed a black man, walking towards the entrance of the park, carrying what I thought was a sun umbrella in a plastic pouch. I was a bit surprised, because it was extremely windy, and he didn’t have a blanket to lay on, but I figured, hey, maybe he just wants to carve out a little spot in the shade for himself for a little while and sit there in the grass to find some peace.
A short while later, I passed a white man with two young girls on bikes. One was wearing a unicorn helmet, which I thought was cool. 🦄 It always pleases me to see dads out with their kids - even though that shouldn’t be any more unusual of a sight than to see moms out at the park with their children. I’m aware of how sexist it is for me to celebrate dads taking care of their own children. (It still pleases me, because it gives me hope that, more and more, it will just become “normal.”)
By the time I’d finished my walk, about a half hour later, I got into my car and sat there for a little while before I drove away. My eyes wandered towards the park, and I saw the black man from the beginning of my walk flying a kite. Ah, that was what he’d been carrying! That made more sense. The extremely windy weather we had yesterday was perfect for kite flying. I watched him for a little while. His kite crashed repeatedly, and he would walk across the lawn to go and pick it up. Before very long, I spotted the white man with his two little girls on bikes. He jogged over to where the kite had crashed and picked it up, helping the black man to get it back up in the air. I saw him do this at least fifteen times before I drove away.
As far as I could tell, these two men had never met. They were just two people, one out with his kite, and one with his kids, and one of them decided to help the other out. It was a beautiful dance to behold, watching the two of them go on like that for quite a while. It reminded me that humans are generally good. That humans are generally kind. That race really doesn’t matter. And that we can, each one of us, make another’s life a bit more wonderful by offering a small and simple gesture.
Now, to be clear, I would have liked to tell the story like this:
I saw a person going to the park to fly their kite. Then I saw another person taking their two children to the park to ride their bikes. One person helped the other person with their kite when it kept crashing.
Neither race nor gender should be of relevance. But, of course, we all know that it is.
I listened to a conversation today between Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls, and Glennon Doyle and her wife Abby Wambach. I loved absolutely everything about this conversation. (Here is the link, if you would like to check it out.) A part of the conversation was about racism, and they spoke to the fact that we have to, first and foremost, acknowledge that we are ALL racist. ALL of us. Then, once we have acknowledged that, we can start to dismantle the racism that was instilled in us by our society, our culture.
Let’s be real with ourselves and with each other. Race shouldn’t matter, but it does. Let’s acknowledge that and work, collectively, on deconstructing racism, one honest conversation at a time. 🙏🏻🙏🏼🙏🏽🙏🏾🙏🏿