Four days before Christmas, I witnessed the world grow darker. Out for dinner with friends at a casual family restaurant in central Illinois, there were only two waitresses and the place was jam-packed, with reservations pending.
A black family, mother, father, and two teenage children stood at the “Please wait to be seated sign” near our table. Two tables were open and, with no “RESERVED” sign, they seemed to be available. After waiting for five minutes or so without being greeted or acknowledged, they turned to leave. I said to give it another minute but the father said they didn’t want to wait that long.
He could not have known, because no one spoke with him, that reservations precluded his party from being seated anyway.
Talking with my dinner companions, I said that family undoubtedly experienced that as straight-up racism. The older woman who is well established in that burg replied that we weren’t acknowledged either. That is an apples-to-oranges comparison because my companions are regulars there and the waitress finally took our order with a friendly, familiar tone. We were comfortable there. The black family could not have been.
In all fairness, the waitresses didn’t have time to breathe and possibly this was just an unfortunate mistake. Or, maybe acknowledging blacks is not in their consciousness.
When I am crowned queen, all restaurant patrons will be welcomed and no one will feel the sting of racism.
Racism is the albatross that has dragged our country down for over 400 years. We will never achieve our full potential until we heal what is often referred to as our original sin. What will it take to do that?
Gandhi said that we must be the change we wish to see in the world. That is certainly a good place to start.
I don’t have any answers, much less easy ones, but at the very least, extending ourselves to outsiders is one way. Learning to look at situations from the other person’s perspective would help too. Know that it is not about you.
Sarah Silverman’s recent Twitter adventure has been called a master class in compassion – a good example to learn from.
The bottom line must be really and truly getting that we are all one. If we are one, we couldn’t possibly lie or cheat because we would be doing that to ourselves. Internalizing that basic truth changes everything.
When we become the change we want to see in the world, we will witness it becoming brighter.
New Community Vision seeks to partner with congregations and community groups to organize frequent occasions to socialize and meet others. Eventually, relationships will form, some may be close, while others may be respectful and functional–which is a blessing in itself. Subscribing to the newsletter, Dispatch from a possible future (1st and 3rd Fridays), ensures that you will know about new developments and upcoming gatherings and that you won’t miss anything. As always, please like our Facebook page. If this post resonates with you, please comment. Google and Facebook love your comments but not as much as I do.