Color Blind? –
This morning our staff attended a lecture on the Understanding Your Implicit Bias. The takeaway is that we all have biases, ways of looking at the world, groups of people, each other. These biases come from our parents, other role models we had as kids, extended families, the neighborhoods we grew up in, friends we hung around, and countless other influences. It wasn’t a lecture on “if” but “why” we developed biases and how they impact your interactions with people you encounter each day, what you think when you hear certain words, see certain images, and how deep these biases are rooted within us.
One of the more interesting topics the lecturer spoke about was the idea of being “color blind.” In other words not seeing a person’s skin color but their character. On the surface, this seems like a great way to connect with each other. The challenge with this way of thinking, according to the speaker, was that you strip a person of part of their identity. As a Christian, white, middle class, middle-aged, southern, heterosexual, male, each of these traits are part me. Along with the unique experiences of my life they make me who I am.
I found this a wonderful and a too often overlooked idea. Sometimes, in order to make everyone “equal”, we take away parts of their identity or neutralize them. When we do this we are doing a disservice to them and ourselves. People, fully known, recognized and loved, connects us in a balanced way that honors the breadth of humanity and the amazing uniqueness present in all of us.
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I was talking with a friend this week about the different masks we wear when we go different places. There’s a work mask, family mask, friend mask, public mask, and somewhere, often buried deep is our true authentic ourselves. The problem is that we become so accustomed to wearing masks we never take one off for too long or risk showing the world who we are under all the fantasy. The conversation continued and we wondered if any of the illusions we create could eventually lead us to allow others to see the genuine person.
The conversation continued and we wondered if any of the illusions we create could eventually lead us to allow others to see the genuine person. We are so accustomed to hiding the “real” us, the person we think people won’t like, that wearing masks become our default and our defense.
The question becomes how do we break free of this habit of wearing masks? Overcome the fear of our authentic selves not being good enough? How do we begin to discover who we are when concealing our true identity has been our goal for most of our life? This is the reason we are here now, the journey we are meant to travel, the discovery, not of a lifetime, but of life.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes
but in having new eyes.”
I listened to an author today talk about the way he writes a book. His latest offering is a metaphor for his family life growing up. His father committed suicide, his brother was a genius and these, along with others, are mirrored by the characters in his novel.
The person interviewing him asked; “Why did you write such a book now? What was the motivation?” The author thought for a moment and then replied; “I guess there were some things I was yoked to and I need to get unyoked.” I don’t hear the word yoked used often. Most of the time it’s being quoted from the Second book to the Corinthians written by the Apostle Paul. This man believed there were memories, experiences, and relationships which had shaped his life for good and bad and at this time of his life he needed to bring them to the surface to examine them and understand why and how they made him into the man and author he has become.
As I reflect on what he said I hear and feel a great truth in his words. Each of us has those life events which help shape us into the people we are today. Unfortunately, along with the good, there are the bad, with the love there is abuse and other negatives to which we are yoked. Becoming unyoked is not forgetting or escaping where we come from but allowing even the worse of times to be a light shone upon dark places inside.
It is only when we come face to face with all that made us who we are can we choose a new path or learn to be thankful for the one we currently travel.