When I was 3, I wanted a “chocolate” baby doll for my birthday.
I cherished, played with and cared for that baby doll until it fell apart. It was beautiful because it looked a lot like my real life childhood best friend. I welcomed the color of people’s skin being different than mine.
Throughout middle and high school I went to school in a predominantly white, wealthy environment. I watched black athletes get scholarships, good grades and lead the team to championships. I saw one black woman working to sustain a three bedroom home, car and a comfortable life in our quiet neighborhood. Simultaneously, I saw the police called to my house in that same quiet neighborhood as my parents tore apart our family in a messy divorce. Stuck inside the bubble of my own struggle I thought, “We are all equal.”
In 2009, I went to Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. The neighborhood I lived in was surrounded by a poor, black community. While there, I saw black people working blue collar jobs in the school’s cafeterias and as security guards. I saw black people throw their trash into the streets. I also read e-mails warning me of recent muggings or student robberies on a weekly basis. The descriptions of the offender usually read: “Tall, African American male wearing black hoodie.”
My inner dialogue began to change. I thought, “Black people are dangerous. Black people are lazy. Black people are dirty. Black people don’t care about themselves or anyone else.”
I also saw white students smashing beer bottles in those same neighborhood streets. Drunkenly screaming, smashing furniture out of windows and fighting near schools, parks and outside of houses with sleeping children inside. I saw white college students put date rape drugs in drinks. I myself gallivanted through the streets on week nights drunkenly screaming as the neighbors called down from their windows for us to, “shut up!”
“White people are dangerous. White people are lazy. White people are dirty. White people don’t care about themselves or anyone else.” It sounded familiar.
I’ve come to know that one of the most dangerous traps threatening human kind manifests when judgement is regarded as fact.
One of my most powerful realizations was admitting my judgments. I learned to be honest with myself in what I saw and how I felt—there’s no shame in that. In honesty there is power.
Once one takes the time to notice their judgements, it’s easier to realize that you’ve been focusing in on one pixel of a larger picture—a bigger picture that you should have noticed all along.
The world holds an oceanic life of experiences. For me, admitting my judgments brings a new sense of peace and freedom because I know that each day holds the opportunity for new experiences and a new opportunity to look at the bigger picture.
Today, my attitudes and beliefs are never fixed but rather flexible.
We are all a work in progress.
Allow yourself and others time to grow.
Author: Nicole Beddow
Editor: Alli Sarazen
Photo: Alex Barth/Flickr