Saturday, July 20, 2013

Reaching Out...Can't We Just Get Along?

 
In May of 1996, I was part of a workshop and discussion held at an
African-American church in Greensboro, NC. The topic was race
relations, and the events of this past week in Florida and
throughout this nation reminded me of the way I felt at that time,
after listening to so many of the truly angry black speakers taking
the microphone and speaking of their personal and collective pain...
a pain they emphasized that those of us with white skin could never
really understand. I found myself taking the microphone myself
that day and, with tears in my eyes, appealing to my sisters and
brothers of another skin color to know and see and realize that
I was truly trying to understand...trying to rid myself of my
part in the racism so prevalent in our society...trying to reach
out, only to find my hand figuratively slapped aside, my efforts
rejected. I recalled this week the total frustration I felt that
long-ago day and when I came home, I took pen in hand and,
as is my way, put my feelings down on paper in the form of a
poem. And so, today, I share these words and feelings with you-
and you and you...in the hope that somehow, we WILL be able
to reach past our individual feelings and frustrations to take
the hand being offered to us, regardless of its color, in the belief
that it is being offered in all sincerity, from an overflowing heart.

A BEGINNING
I am a woman.
   I was born that way...
      it was not a choice I made,
      an option given me...
         to be or not to be female.
It is who I am...
   as surely as you are a man.

My skin is white.
   I was born that way...
      it was not a choice I made,
      an option given me...
         to be or not to be white.
It is who I am...
   as surely as you are black or brown, yellow or red

I am heterosexual.
   I was born that way...
      it was a choice I made,
      an option given me...
         to be or not to be heterosexual.
It is who I am..
   as surely as you are homosexual.

I know I cannot get inside your gender...
   inside your skin...inside your sexuality.
      As for walking a mile in your shoes-
      they don't fit and I stumble and fall...
         get us and fall again.

I want to KNOW you...
   I'm willing to try to understand...to feel...
      to hear your pain...to walk with you...
Don't shut me out because of who I am...
   don't turn me off...
   don't look away...
       please don't discount my being who
       God created me to be-
             female
             white
             heterosexual...true.

But I can't help being me any more than
   you can help being you.
It's something that we share, you see...
   you created to be you...
   me created to be me...
                             so-
         CAN  WE JUST START FROM THERE?


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