Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Morning Thanks--POC

I've biked for three days, eight miles or so, out and back to an old golf course--in the sun. I've worked on the yard in 85-degree heat. Along with my wife, I've walked several times on a glorious path through restored prairie that's alive with life--in full sun.

I tan easily, always have. I'm not stupid--I don't lie out to get "brown," but I don't have to work hard to get rid of that pasty, floury me that accrues every winter. Okay, I admit it--I don't mind seeing myself several shades darker than I am on my February birthday.

Come June, I'm dark-skinned; but I am not, nor will I ever be, a "person of color," and try as I might, I don't, as if by nature or instinct or battery of experience, perceive day-to-day life quite the same as a POC does. In a certain sense, that makes me an LD student, learning disabled, which is not to say I can't be taught.

I sit on a national committee whose mission and task is to help the church deal with its racial past, its present, and future. As everyone knows, it won't be long in this country before white folks become a minority. I have no doubt that at least some of the animus against Obama is created, among white folks, by that fear, whether conscious or not. Times are changing.

Last night, we went at it hard, this committee did, and I tried my best to get the rest of them to understand how white folks would likely think through a particular problem we're encountering somewhere within that changing racial face. The rest of the committee tried their best to help me understand how people of color could be aggrieved, could be angry, could be ready to walk away because of attitudes they clearly read in those same reactions I tried to explain.

I'm not sure how we fared, but we tried our level best, all of us people of colors.

What I know is this. This morning's thanks are for them, for what they taught me--for what they teach me, what they will teach me again today in more such meetings. Good Lord, it's really hard work to peel back layers of perceptions we're blessed and cursed with--and I'm not talking simply about racism. It's dang hard work to perceive things from walking in another person's shoes--or skin. Dark as I am this June, in so many ways I'll never be a POC.

But this morning, I'd like to think that we can learn, that we can change, and that we can--although in an always limited way--understand. We can grow.

At least I think we can. And for that too, on this brand new morning, the morning of new meetings, I'm thankful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Isn't it all about empathy, "the ability to share in another's emotions, thoughts or feelings"? But then, its hard to "walk in another person's shoes" if one's feet are quite large. We should all empathize with our poor European brothers and sisters who are woefully deprived of the generous protection of melatonin that God has provided lovingly for His children. ( Matthew 22: 36-40 & 28:16-20 ; Mark 9:33-36)