Compassion is a bridge to understanding


Everyone has a story. I am a black woman who grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood, went to predominantly white schools, and always worked in predominantly white spaces. I know how to assimilate so that I can accomplish what needs to be done. Even though assimilation is my norm, I’m noticing that it is quite superficial. More is available through compassion which gives space for greater understanding.

Just as I have a story, make judgments, choose my words and actions based on that history and life experience, the person in front of me has a story. The person in front of me makes judgements, chooses words and actions based on their life experience up to now. Some may not be aware of their thoughts on the topic of race because they have limited awareness of how race has meaning in their daily routine. Just as I hope that people have compassion for me and my story, can I try to have compassion for the person in front of me? What if I am the first black person they have ever had a conversation with? How can I expect them to choose culturally effective ways to communicate if this is their first try? What if they have fear of, or unrealistic expectations for this experience? I certainly know what it feels like to be afraid of a situation. Can I have compassion for this person who might be afraid of me or uncomfortable with this experience of interacting with a black person? Is it possible the person in front of me has been influenced by misinformation and cultural influences that generate irrational fear, resentment, or rage toward ‘menacing black people?’ Is this an opportunity for both of us to have compassion, learn something about the other, and grow our story and lived experience?

What is your 6-Word Story?
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