I was born and raised in a small town in Indiana called “Kokomo” by a single mother with 5 sisters and 1 brother. We were the only black family in our neighborhood therefore, I and my sisters were THE only of our kind in our class during our elementary (Pettit Park) and middle school (Lafayette) years.
What did that mean for us? A LOT of fighting that is. I am going off of my memory so my sisters may have had different experiences. I remember that fighting came easy for me because a lot of times the kids that called me out of my name were at the same time afraid of me. They “assumed” I could fight. #perk
As the youngest, I remember how my older sisters had to do MORE fighting and made it known NOT to mess with those Christie girl’s. So I didn’t have to fight as often or as much as they did but I still had to fight. I remember fighting during recess because someone called me out of my name and instead of Mr. Russell (our principal) sending me home – he made me sit in the office until school was out. That walk home was a long one because I just KNEW when I got home Jan Houston-Christie was gonna BEAT ME DOWN!!! But instead silence. NOTHING. Mr. Russell never called her.
Mr. Russell had no idea how much he saved me but as an adult I realize something. I think he knew if he called my Mom – I’d get in trouble. But why? For defending myself against being called a derogatory, demeaning and revolting name. I think he spared me out of some level of understanding. I don’t think Mr. Russell could understand ALL the way but he sympathized with my situation. NOW – if Mr. Russell was prejudice himself not only would he have called Jan but he would have paddled me (we got those in school back in the day). But he didn’t do that. He didn’t even give me a tongue lashing…He just told me to go sit. I’ll never know if Mr. Russell ever addressed the students who called me names. Maybe he did…maybe he didn’t but what I appreciated most of him was that he cared enough to show me sympathy. Don’t think he felt sorry for me but TRIED to understand what I was going through.
What’s going on?
Why is it that we cannot have this approach in society today? THE only 2 things that make us different are: 1) the color of our skin & 2) the way we are treated in this country. The question was asked to white society – if given the opportunity – would you trade places in society with a black person? IF you answer yes, then I believe it would show you things you NEVER knew existed. IF you say no, then that means you obviously realize there is an issue. To my fellow brothers & sisters: How do you expect one to totally “understand” our stance IF they’ve never experienced it? The same way we need our white family to make an attempt to “sympathize” we also need to “understand” that they can’t see something that has never affected them. BOTH parties should exercise compassion. To my white family – if we tell you that we’ve been stung by a bee and it hurts DON’T tell us “No it doesn’t” and don’t tell me “Well if you hadn’t been outside then you wouldn’t have been stung to begin with.” Neither of those comments erase the pain. It still hurts.
God created us ALL in His image so if a portion of God is being demeaned, disrespected and most importantly killed…then we as His creation should lay down our differences and seek out a solution. One of the solutions I see is we as “black Americans” need to first begin to love, respect and honor ourselves again. When we kill and defile ourselves it gives the “illusion” for others that it’s ok to do the same. Respect begats Respect!!!
Love is the solution and it starts in our individual worlds. Make a special effort to love on everyone in your day to day lives. Smile and offer a hello. Help someone even if they are apprehensive at first. Put it into your everyday practice and it will become routine.
I love you all!!! Remember that: LOVE isn’t love unless you GIVE it away
Gospel Recording Artist Trish Standley is also the host of the weekly show Style with Trysh ~ connect with All things Trish by visiting http://www.trishstandley.com