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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The fellowship hall which belongs to one of the two churches next to our house had a new roof put on yesterday. As I was doing yard work they were working under the hot sun with no hope of shade. A truck pulled into the parking lot full of shingles and the driver began unloading. After he finished another man grabbed a bundle of shingles, positioned them on his shoulders and carried them up the ladder to the workers on the roof.
Watching this man and the way he handled the shingles and the ladder you might think he would be broad and muscular but actually, he was smallish in size. However, the way expert way he handled the shingles let you know he’d been doing this type of work for a while.
Impressed with his agility and strength I reflected on the burdens that people carry. Mother Teresa once famously said; “I know God says; ‘He wouldn’t give us more than we could handle.’ I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.”
Size, age, education, talent, and all the accolades the world holds dear doesn’t necessarily equal great faith or perseverance. It’s the elderly woman we pass in the grocery store, the young man with the earring in his nose, the middle age woman with a tear in her eye, the man holding the door open for strangers, who carry burdens too heavy for most of us.
They are able to do this not because they are stronger but have been doing it longer.