Mar 13, 2006

I'm a racist

Ok—here’s a moment of clarity for me from my Examen today….
I was house hunting in Woodside, Queens and As we walked back towards the subway, we witnessed a man (for lack of a better term, as you will soon see) punch a woman in the stomach after she has spoken harshly to him. This was in broad daylight and there was a child walking with them (presumably theirs). The woman doubled over in pain and began sobbing. I stood there dumbfounded and began to walk away. I wish I had a baseball bat because I think I would've used it on the guy. Unfortunately, I was afraid to do anything at the time out of my own fear.

Well…that moment popped up for me today when doing my Examen. For those unfamiliar with the examen, it is a method of prayer that St. Ignatius of Loyola developed where you rewind your previous day in your mind, as you would view a film. You try to see what really happened in your day. You become thankful for each moment, make amends to do better the next day. It has helped me determine much about the way I act towards others and has made me be honest with myself.

I should also say that the moments before that moment popped up as well. I had just finished pointing out to my wife how the neighborhood changed as we walked closer to the train. I even said that as you get closer to the train station you start to see "fewer white faces and more bodegas and graffiti."

Well…that’s kind of a racist statement…don’t you think? (Cue the Avenue Q song)

The big moment of clarity came when I realized the man who punched the woman was WHITE. Even more telling was that the woman was Hispanic and that he punched her in front of her kid (possibly their kid).

When I talk about "bad neighborhoods" I often assume that it will be the minorities who will make a neighborhood crime ridden. Interestingly enough, in this neighborhood, it was “whitey” that committed the only crime we saw that day. And this neighborhood that we're condisering living in is a nice one at that.

The worst part about this is that we are trying to adopt a little Nicaraguan girl into our home. As we move forward and try to bring this beautiful girl into our lives I think I need to be more sensitive to the subject of race. I think we both grew up with some overt racism in our lives…maybe even in our own families (I know there was in mine!).

I pray today to be more sensitive about sweeping statements. That woman could easily have been my own daughter, precious and beautiful and beaten by a thoughtless and vile person who happens to share my skin color and probably my ethnicity.

My thoughts about crime existing near the subway is accurate. However, it could just as easily be crime committed by a white man.

Father, forgive me. Make me a better man...a better father to be. Allow me to unite people instead of dividing them and to see all people as you do with love and preciousness. May I teach my daughter to be these lessons in my home and may we all live in the peace and harmony which you provide us. Amen.

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