Awhile back I had an experience that I am not quite proud of but in recognizing my weakness I had a dash of personal growth and as such I want to share the experience with you. On a visit to NOLA (New Orleans) pre-Katrina we wandered into one of the great local coffee shops. There I found a bumper sticker. Now, I am not a bumper sticker person. Even political ones. But, this one really spoke to me-pictured above.
ERACISM. Under which reads, all colors with love and respect.
I was so into it that it has since resided on my back bumper. So when I was at a local drugstore, I was put off by this gentleman approaching my car door.
" Miss, miss can I ask you a question?"
Me- slightly freaked by the older gentleman walking over from his large pick up truck with a pony tail (not quite of the mullet variety but close).
'Yes. Can I help you."
My doors locked.
Walking closer to my car.
"I want to talk to you about your bumper sticker."
My immediate thought after assessing this gentleman was that this is a probable racist who wants to say something about my bumper sticker. I had some other thoughts too but the language is not appropriate for this forum.
"Yes." I said with a tone of irritation.
My presumed racist, says.... "I have never seen that bumper sticker before and wanted to know where I could get one."
Ok, who is the the racist now?
What followed was great conversation about New Orleans but the glimpse into my assumptive character was deeply disappointing to me. It is so easy for me, for many of us to be righteous on our own terms but how easily out in the world we draw the same conclusions we allege to fight against.
I was ashamed of myself. I have since been approached by others regarding the bumper sticker. It really draws a (no pun intended) diverse crowd of commentators. Young, older, old. White, Black and Hispanic. All positive. But each time all I can think of is the lesson the sticker has taught me. I can be better. We all can. It reminds me how much work still needs to be done. It further commits me to trying to make this a more loving world where we do not just make assumptions but can connect as human beings. The one thing we all have in common.
Learn more about the ERACE movement at http://www.eracismneworleans.org/