12.14.2010

31 days in the shoes of my daughter

I don't claim to know how she feels. I never will. Even as a junior higher in a neighborhood and school where I was the minority, I will never have the experiences and be able to relate to the way people make my daughter feel on a daily basis. But I can say that the taste I experienced for 31 days while living in Uganda gave me a perspective I hope I never forget. In Uganda I looked different. I stood out. I was stared down with questioning eyes by every person that passed by me. I felt untrusted and guilty. I was quoted different prices and given less customer service than a person of the common race. They make Tshirts about my skin tone. They even made Tshirts in response to those race naming shirts to laugh at how common the generality of them really are. In Uganda I am a Mzungu. I am white. I didn't fit in visually and I was made to feel like I didn't belong. There were days when I would keep my eyes to the ground so I didn't have to face the stares that felt like accusations. I would walk and try not to notice all the people stopping in their tracks to catch a glimpse and make assumptions about who I am b/c of what skin color I had.

A 28 hour plane trip later the roles have changed.

Little Rock is the capital of Arkansas and has a rich history of Civil Rights issues. It has a diverse culture and is a blended community. Our neighborhood even has almost every race represented within a block area. But even still she stands out. Not b/c she is black but b/c she is black in a white family. If she were walking along with other African people, no one would notice. But with us she gets stares, murmurs and questions. She is too young to notice or care at this point but I pray she will have the confidence to handle this issue with grace some day. I would hate for her to walk down the street trying to avoid the idea that people are looking and making assumptions about her b/c of what skin color she has and how it is different then ours. She isn't some sequel to the movie "Blindside," but a story all her own. She is special, beautiful and the same kind of different as me.

1 comment:

eives said...

I love it. . . Truth is there is a lot we can do to help them feel comfortable with who they are, and a lot of folks out there who can help. ~erika I