Guest Post: Be The Light

I decided that the comment from a friend on my previous post deserves its own post. In her own words, here it is. We need more people like her. In my opinion, THIS is what America is all about. Pluralism, tolerance and communication.

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I’m so broken hearted by the whole thing. Yesterday, I was sitting on my deck and the dogs were outside with me. The little one, Rigby, started barking and I saw that a few of my neighbor kids were cutting between my house and my neighbors. They were two of the black children who live close by us. They didn’t see me and one of them said to my little Rigby running up and down the fence, “What’s up my little Nigga”. I chuckled and he looked up and was startled. I smiled and waved. He waved back and said, “Hey I was just cutting through to go to my friends. I am not trying to cause trouble.” I smiled and told him that he could cut through our yard anytime. He stopped for a second and asked me if I was sure that he didn’t want problems. I got up from my deck and walked over to him. I reached across the fence and shook his hand. I introduced myself and I told him that we are a gun free and a hate free house. I told him that if I ever saw anyone following him through our neighborhood I would be more apt to hit the person over the head with a 2X4 than to believe he was doing something wrong. He smiled and thanked me. This morning, when I got up, there was a thank you note on my door from his family. While it makes me sick that this experience should have made anyone feel the need to thank me, I am happy to be a light in their life even if for only a moment.

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My thoughts:

When I read this, I couldn’t help flashing back to our own experience of the worst and the best of America. Back when 9/11 happened, I experienced for the first time being a foreigner. I had taken belonging here for granted until then. But for the first time in the eleven years we had lived here,  I felt rather than saw people being a little different. It wasn’t anything blatant–but something had changed and it was subtle. It was in the way people looked at us, you could tell they were wondering. People got a bit quieter, a bit unsure around us in public places – grocery stores, department stores, gas stations.  I can confidently say every person of Asian/middle eastern heritage with brown skin felt this. Raj traveled quite a bit those days, and I started telling him to get rid of that damn beard (which I don’t like anyway). Add to that his intense dark eyes and you have the ideal candidate for profiling and being stopped for security checks at airport in those feverish days of heightened emotions.

And then, it happened. About a week after 9/11, we woke up to a bag of crap on our garage door. It was a physical shock to us. That something like this would happen in our peaceful, friendly upper middle class neighborhood had never occurred to us. That it would happen to US! Never! Our kids spent most of their time in the street playing with about 15 kids from the neighborhood, all of whom were white. We talked to a sheriff who lived down the street from us, who was flabbergasted and assured us that he would do everything to prevent it from happening again. He had patrol cars driving around to let the vandals know the neighborhood was being monitored.

My daughter shared this incident with her class the following week. The next day, after school, a station wagon pulled up in our driveway. It was a parent of one of my daughter’s friends. We had met in school functions and didn’t know each other very well. She got down from her Volvo, carrying a plate of cookies. She told me this: “Lata, I want everyone on this street to see a white person parking in your driveway and bringing you cookies.”

I understood for the first time the generosity of spirit that liberal Americans possess. I had never felt more accepted anywhere. To me, this is what being an American means – accepting the pluralism, embracing it, welcoming it and nurturing it. Having a dialog.

That mom was a point of light for us in those confusing times.

Kudos to these two women! They’re my heroes!

ps. I didn’t edit or polish this article. This is pure stream of consciousness. Raw and unfiltered.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Kelly
    Jul 22, 2013 @ 17:18:09

    I remember that occurrence clearly…….still can hardly believe that happened…….lov ya as 1 human to another

    Like

    Reply

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