Show Up For People

Appreciating others' differences, as opposed to questioning them, should be the norm.

We brought Cy to his first (and I guess, only) childcare center when he was two-and-a-half. The daycare wasn’t predominantly white like most schools in the area, which was one of its key attractions.

I remember him coming home one day asking why some of his classmates were brown. While it initially took me by surprise (how does a two-year-old notice, and question, this already?), I was glad he asked. I don’t recall exactly what my response was, but I know it centered around this statement:

“We are all different in different ways. And different doesn’t mean wrong. It means unique.”

I have always found a person’s differences to be what’s most attractive about them. Especially when that something is the thing that makes them feel insecure, like a distinct chin, wild hair, or over-the-top personality.

A flaw that you notice about yourself is usually the thing that people admire most about you. This isn’t the case with race.

I’m reading Tan France’s book, Naturally Tan, right now, where he references (many times) how brown people can’t show emotion in public because it will “scare the white people.” He shares a story where he learns his new clothing line sold out in 24 hours, but that he couldn’t express how happy he was, because he was in an airport when he heard the news — a brown person jumping up and down in excitement, in an airport, would “alarm the white people.” He isn’t wrong.

It made me think about how I grew up in a bubble. And while it was a safe bubble, it taught me nothing about how other people live — or, try to live. This woman’s story confirmed how small that bubble was.

Show Up For People

My essays are largely centered around taking care of yourself and your self-esteem and basically everything that centers around you. While I believe that’s important, it isn’t important right now. What’s important right now (and always) is listening to other people’s pain and sadness — making an effort to understand the chaos that’s unfolding.

My challenge for myself, and for you — if you want it — is to not be so assuming in the way you view other people. And consequently, their behavior.

As a society, we pit ourselves against anyone who is different from us. Why?

I think it’s because white people are scared to know the truth. I think white people are afraid of seeing what people of color have always seen — that white people are privileged. White people do have advantages in life, and white people do get special treatment. None of this is an opinion.

Parting Questions

How do you bring more diversity in your life if you live in a bubble? Move?

Why are we afraid of confronting racism? Because it’s bigger than we are? Because it’s too uncomfortable to talk about?

There’s so much we can learn from other people’s stories. But we have to be willing to listen. Get to know other people for the sake of getting to know other people. Educate yourself on the reasons why people are so outraged right now.

Pretending it isn’t happening or waiting for the news to calm down isn’t productive.

Thank you for reading.