Tragedy has struck our nation again, and so we need to stop and think. All of us. Even if you aren't involved - ESPECIALLY if you are not involved. If you are not a black man or a white police officer, we owe it to those people to consider their situations.
A little while ago, I posted my views on racial issues. You can read that here. I think what I have written still stands, but I have more to add now. I'm 42 years old and I still am learning.
I have a lot to learn.
How do we do that? How do we find a way to understand? Sometimes it helps to take a look from a different perspective. We need to find one we can understand. The one I understand comes from my children.
You may know that my youngest child has Type 1 Diabetes. If you know, I wouldn't doubt that you are sick of hearing about it, if you do not yourself have a connection to diabetes. And that's okay. Because I'm not going to stop talking about it. It's our life. It's what we know. I share so the people I care about can understand our struggle.
What bothers me the most? People who say they understand, when they don't. People who aren't listening, but just going on their own perception of the truth. This happens a lot from people who know someone with Type 2 Diabetes (there are a LOT more of T2s, so just about everyone know someone). You can't put them in the same category with T1s, though. They are totally different diseases.
Do I want my child to be seen as different because of her condition? Yes and no. Yes because she NEEDS to be seen as different. If she were in a line where everyone was being given a Coca Cola, I would want special attention given to her! I would want the Coke-givers to see that she is different and needs to be removed from this situation. Regular soda is one thing the doctor said she should never have, except in an emergency.
But in situations where it doesn't matter? Where dangerous amounts of sugar aren't being given? Sure, I want her to get the same full experience that all the other children are having!
So, is it wrong to want it both ways? To be seen as both different and the same? I guess some people would think it is. Only those in the "T1D family" can really understand why this is so important - for our kids to be seen as the same and different at the same time.
There are others who get it. People who try to understand. They read all the T1D things I post and react with compassion instead of boredom. Some even go beyond and research our condition even more on their own. They post articles for me about T1D, and that makes me happy. Not because I need to learn more about it (sometimes I do, but usually by the time the general public is getting the news, I have already seen it from our inside groups.) But because someone thought about us and felt for our difficulty.
Once I had to deal with someone in authority at school who said she knew what we were going through because she had a loved one with Type 2. Instead of hearing me tell her that it wasn't the same, she kept believing she knew. She enforced her loved one's situation on us and it didn't fit. That made school difficult for us during that time, while we had to abide by the standards of care SHE thought was right.
Now. What on EARTH does this have to do with racial inequality? This:
When I was younger, I didn't understand why we needed Black History Month. Why dwell in the past? I knew African Americans, and they seemed to be getting along just fine without the yearly reminders of where they came from. Did they really want to keep hearing that their great-grandfathers were slaves? Why did I have to keep learning it too? Seemed to me people of color always wanted to talk about the past.
I wasn't connected; I didn't get it.
Now I know - just like our family always talks about diabetes, and tries to educate others about what we go through, black people need for white people to understand what they go through too.*
I must have been so annoying to the black people in college who were trying to get me to understand. Because I thought I knew - and they knew there was no way I could unless I actually listened to them. I wonder if they hated me. I have no doubt they were frustrated.
I saw it like this: everyone standing in a line; everyone being offered a Coca-Cola. I didn't realize there were people in that line who couldn't get the soda. There are times when everyone belongs in the same line, and there are times when it is not safe for that to happen.
I WISH we didn't have to make that distinction. I WISH it were always safe for everyone to be in line together. But, because of mankind, it just isn't. I also wish my daughter didn't have diabetes and could drink a soda without thinking about it. But she just can't.
We have to learn, so that we can understand. We have to learn what the other person is dealing with.
THAT'S why we need Black History Month, and we need it every year. Sometimes we aren't listening. Sometimes we need to hear it 12 times before it sinks in that black people have been treated poorly in this country since the time they came here. Of course, there are some (now) who are doing just fine. Heck, we have a black President! But sadly, that's just not the case everywhere.
Thomas Jefferson told us that all men are created equally, and we blindly slap that on textbooks for school kids to memorize. But the truth is, they aren't. Some are gifted verbally, others are gifted physically. Others still are gifted logically, and there are some - yes, there are some - who have no giftings, really. They were created with numerous deficiencies.
But here it is. Although all men are NOT created equally in all areas, all of mankind has equal value.
So know what the special giftings are of certain people. Yes, the Kenyans are always going to win medals in the marathon at the Olympics. I don't think knowing that, saying that, or admitting that makes us racist. If they are going to be proud of the speed God gave them, then let's be proud with them!
Part of me is totally embarrassed to be even writing this, because I do feel so uneducated about the racial tension going on today. But the science teacher in me knows that the answer to any problem can be found by asking "why?" I think the bottom line for why some people hate other groups of people is because they just don't understand them. That doesn't make it right, but it does make it fixable.
Knowledge isn't not going to solve the hatred in the world. That's a sin issue. But learning more about other people can help us understand them better. The more we understand, the more peace we might begin to see.
*PLEASE don't walk away from this thinking that I consider being black a disease. That is so far from the truth. I am only trying to use a life situation that I understand to help me see that I don't understand another one.
Passion Under Grace,