The idea for “Going There” came about as a result of the 31 Days In My Brown Skin series I wrote in October, 2012. (You can read those posts here.) The series generated a lot of valuable dialogue, and when the thirty-one days were over, it felt as if the conversation wasn’t done. So, I invite you to share your story as it relates to issues of race, ethnicity, and culture in your every day life.
The goal of “Going There” is to encourage ongoing dialogue about topics of race, ethnicity, and culture in a way that is thoughtful and that shows respect, with the goal of advancing our understanding of the beautiful diversity in the humanity that surrounds us. Interested in sharing your story? Start here. Today’s post is written by Rosalie.
Right after Deidra revisited the 31 Days: Going There series, I went on a date with my husband and had an interesting experience. We were seeing Life of Pi, courtesy of a store rewards program I belong to. We got free movie tickets and money at the snack bar – $10 each! We picked up popcorn, drinks and candy, something we never do because we don’t want to pay for it.
We wouldn’t have used the gift card again, so as we exited the theater, I approached the first group of people headed for the snacks to offer them an extra $11. It so happened that I gave my gift card to a couple of people who were black. I can’t be certain, but I don’t think I would have even thought twice about what the people I gave my card to looked like. It would have registered that they were black, but I wouldn’t have thought about it afterwards.
But as I was walking away, I thought of Deidra’s story about getting a free coffee and thinking, “Do white people get treated like this all the time?” When I first read that story, I actually got a little angry. I think I said “no” out loud! Because of course not! I don’t get deferential treatment because of the color of my skin, at least not in obvious ways like free coffee. If that does happen, I don’t know about it. And I frequent coffee shops a lot.
But after I gave my gift card away, I wondered if those people thought I picked them because they were black. Or, worse, that I was disappointed they were the first ones through the door. And then I was frustrated that those thoughts even came to my mind. I wasn’t being deferential, and I was neither pleased nor disappointed about what they looked like. It was just lucky!
I imagine, if I went to Neiman-Marcus and they gave me a gift bag with a diamond necklace and a fancy bottle of perfume and a pair of $2500 shoes, I’d think to myself, “Do rich people get treated like this all the time?” Is that the same thing? Here’s the thing: I know I wonder what it feels like to be rich, so why is it strange to me that Deidra, or anyone, would wonder what it’s like to be in the majority – race or otherwise.
I kind of don’t know what to do with these experiences. On one hand, I think it’s absurd and I just want to forget it. I believe every person deserves to be treated kindly and with respect, no matter what. On the other hand, that means entertaining our “absurd” questions!
On top of that, the post was tied to Obama’s reelection. I do take a certain amount of pride in the fact that our president is a person of color, of unique background. I love that, and I am proud of our (sometimes slow) country for making the leap.
Since God has called me to the mission field, I know that a slow economy is not going to keep me from Spain. But health insurance premiums doubling, a 2% tax increase for everyone… it’s too much for some of our financial partners. This is a hard season, and a lot of the reason is our president. It doesn’t have anything to do with the color of his skin, but sometimes I think people missed all the signs that his policies aren’t going to work because they were blinded by the fact that he looks different. In that post, Deidra said she was having lots of interesting and confusing thoughts. Me too, now.
Rosalie writes at Seasoned With Salt, a mishmash blog focusing on her family’s journey toward planting churches in Spain, and lots of other random topics. She is wife to Chris, mama to Susanna Jane (18 months) and proud to have been raised by her grandparents. She aspires to be a woman who pursues God’s Word. She is passionate about seeing young people surrender their lives to Jesus, ministry to children of incarcerated parents, strong coffee, and sunshine. She is happiest when barefoot in the summer. Connect with Rosalie on Facebook and Twitter