The Wrong Color

Every time people say that racism no longer exists, I have to laugh at their naivete. Every time I think I can change them, I have to laugh at my naivete.

A peer recently made a comment that white men can’t be in the NBA because “they’re the wrong color.” I was so shocked that I couldn’t say anything. Now I’m wishing I had said that I wasn’t the right color for the conversation.

But really, would it have done any good? In making such a comment, wouldn’t I just be promoting the same evil that had just disgusted me? What would the correct response have been? Would it have been enough to say that I was offended by the remark?

After hundreds of years of judging people by the color of their skin, you would think that we’d get it right. I’m not saying that we’ve made zero progress. As a woman of color, I’m well aware of the fact that things are far better than when my parents were my age. But we still have a long way to go.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about what it takes to develop positive habits. We agreed that when we first set a goal, we’re excited about it and we prepare ourselves to tackle it head on. (Then we wait until January 1 to actually jump into it because that’s when we’re supposed to start anew.) But as with many resolutions, we tend to let ourselves fall out of the goal of developing good habits. Why?

I suggested that maybe we have to suffer a little bit in order to make a real change. I think of the history makers and the trailblazers…the Mandelas, the Gandhis, the Martin Luther King’s, the Mother Teresas…all the men and women who have had to suffer and sacrifice in order to make a real change. And I think that maybe that’s what we still need today.

Maybe we’re tackling things the wrong way when we decide to “fight fire with fire.” Maybe I’m meant to suffer today in order to make things better for tomorrow…even if that means biting my tongue and turning the other cheek.

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