Hands Up. Don’t Shoot.

 

Growing up, I had no real concept of racism. I grew up in a mostly white town in Rhode Island where all my friends and I were super into hip hop. I would hear about racism and discrimination in music and I was moved by it, but I had never witnessed anything blatantly racist myself. That all changed when I started hanging out with guys from two towns over, some of which happened to be black. All of a sudden, many people in my town who worshipped black athletes and entertainers, had a problem with the people I was hanging out with. I, along with a few of my friends who happened to be dating black guys, were called N***** lovers by people we had grown up with and been friends with all our lives. I was shocked. As the years passed and I began having the race discussion more and more, I found that many people think it’s “disgusting” if a girl has slept with a black man. I met girls that had 50 or 60 bodies at 21 years old yet when I asked them if they’d been with a black guy they replied, “OMG Never! White guys won’t date you if you’ve been with a black guy!” This blew me away because the racism wasn’t always overt, but it was there. I began noticing an undercurrent in society, an unspoken feeling among many people. Continue reading

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The Greatest Blessing in the Whole World is Being a Blessing

“You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

I had a realization somewhere in the last year. I took a pause from asking God for the things I wanted and started asking what (S)He wanted from me. I declared daily, “God, use me for Your highest purpose! Show me how I can use my unique gifts and talents to be of service to the world.” It was at this point that I became uber-aware of the miracles occurring all around me.

In the past, if I had an inkling to say or do something, oftentimes I would ignore it for fear of judgment. After I prayed this prayer, however, I acted on my intuition, knowing that God was answering my prayer. There have been so many instances since that day where God has used me to be a blessing, and has blessed me in return.

One day, I was walking to meet my friend Caitlin to go hiking. I confused the cross street we were meeting at, and ended up sitting and waiting for her on a stone wall outside of a popular plaza. After a few minutes, the parking attendant, an older Indian man, came over and began speaking with me. We made some small talk about his job before he blurted out to me that he didn’t like black people. I was shocked. Why would he think it was okay to say something like that to me? I remembered my prayer and decided that cursing him out would do no good and decided to try another method. I asked him why he disliked black people so much. He told me that all the people that park in his lot are respectful, except black people who often yell at him and try to physically assault him. I told him I was sorry to hear that he had had this experience, but reasoned with him that these were just a few people, and not reflective of the entire race. He wouldn’t listen. He had had so many bad experiences that nothing I could say would change his mind. I explained to him that he was having these experiences because he expected to have them and that my experiences were quite the opposite. I explained that he could change the way he experienced people and events by changing his thinking. I told him verbatim, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”  At that moment my friend texted me clarifying the correct street she was on. As I went to get up to leave, a beautiful black family in an SUV slowly pulled into the parking space directly in front of us. The black man looked directly at the Indian man, bowed his head, and put his hands up in the prayer pose, respectfully thanking him for doing his job. The indian man looked at me with the widest eyes I’ve ever seen. Once again, I looked at him and repeated, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change,” and happily walked off. Continue reading