"COLE AND BEANA, COME AND PRAY!"
My husband's voice rings out through the house as part of our familiar bedtime routines. My college-age daughter and son drop what they're doing and schlep their way to our bedroom. When they were little, they used to run and jump onto our king-sized bed and snuggle between us in a big people-sandwich enveloped in our arms. Now that they're adult sized, one or the other still finds their way onto the bed. Entering their twenties, they still let us fold them into us and run our fingers through their curls as we each name two items for which we're thankful.
"I'm thankful I aced my test, and for the rain we had today," says Beana.
"I'm thankful for the Birkenstocks I got and how GOOD they make my feet feel!" says Cole.
"I'm thankful for getting all the bills paid, and still having money left over." said Scott. I'm very thankful for that too!
"I'm thankful for the overcast skies today. I'm thankful that my garden is coming up all over the place!" I say.
And then we pray.
I'm thankful, that in this society inundated by racial tension, colors blend in my home. Able to touch without reservation. Talk without hesitancy of difficult societal issues. And listen, laugh, get angry, speak loudly, safe in the understanding that race is not entwined with those emotions.
Can we ever get to that place in our society? Not color blind. Not negating what is clearly seen on the surface, but getting past it to the depth of engaging relationship anyway?
Long ago in college, I had to address head-on the racist undertones that had prevailed in my childhood home and how they impacted my thinking as a young woman. I had not been raised around Black families and had grown into an adult being uncomfortable with the unfamiliar, with all the expected trappings of biased assumptions towards the Black students I interfaced with. That included being a Resident Assistant in a very diverse dorm on the Buffalo State campus. Lots of kids from downstate near New York City were attending school there. I started to put myself into positions and places where I as a White person, was in the minority. It was very uncomfortable, but it forced me to think outside the box and to explore my perceptions of people. I recall once, making a mental parallel of viewing myself as a little white rat (pun intended), with my "human" self picking up my "rat" self by the scruff of the neck and lowering me into some complex maze saying, "Now let's watch how you'll handle this."
Eventually, I got comfortable, with being uncomfortable.
I think that's a thing for White people....the need to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
So, perhaps the discomfort many people are feeling in our society right now serves a functional purpose? Perhaps it forces us to look at ourselves and internally grapple with our unexpressed assumptions. If that is an outcome for this national struggle, in a tentative sort of way, I'm thankful for that too.
Susan Parlato Revels
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