By Sheriann, a SJPJC volunteer
Recently, I watched a video by Proctor and Gamble of different people looking at a Black man, as if they were judging him based on the color of his skin. In the end of the video, the Black man was a judge. In the end, there is a quote that says, “Let’s talk about the look, so we can see beyond it.” I’m thinking why must people roll their windows up just because they see a Black man? Do they think he’s going to harm them?
Have you ever seen others look at you differently, as if they were judging you? When I was dating a black man, I would get stares from other women, who appeared to be against the idea that a white woman could be with a black man. I was and am in love and it happens to be with a black man. He, too, is in love, and it happens to be with a white woman. Thanks to the law in 1967, interracial marriages were allowed and my marriage could happen in 1996. We all have the right to date or marry anyone we want.
Maybe you received the look of disgust? When I was younger, I went to a fundraising dinner and there was a girl who couldn’t feed herself and the food that was fed to her would come up out of her mouth. I had to look, but then look away. I was curious, but I also felt bad that she couldn’t feed herself. I also didn’t like how it made me feel. I felt bad that I was disgusted because I knew she couldn’t control how she ate. It made me wonder about what disabled people go through.
Sometimes people say, “Don’t feel bad for me or pity me,” or “I don’t want your pity.” But, when I looked up “pity“, the definition is: the feeling of sorrow and compassion. Why don’t people want others to have compassion for them? Compassion is a good thing. In the Bible, it states many examples of Jesus showing compassion toward others. He felt compassion for Lazarus, who died, so He brought him back to life. “…God is gracious and compassionate, and slow to anger…” Nehemiah 9:16-18. Jesus had compassion on two blind men, on a dead person’s mother, on a large crowd, and there are many more verses.
Isn’t it sad that because of the color of skin, because of what is worn, because of how people style their hair or wear make-up, because of what people have on their skin (maybe we have a rash, a scar, markings of abuse, bags under our eyes, tattoos, or a genetic skin disorder), because of what people do for a living, because of where people live, because of who people marry, because of what their children might do, and the list goes on and on, people will judge others and give them the look or the stare?
I know I am guilty of staring too long when I see a person who is missing a limb or one of their eyes is glass, or they are wearing a toupee, or they are rocking a mohawk, or they have tattoos all over their body, but it is because it is unusual to me. I am curious, so I look. I can only imagine my looking at them might cause them to think I do not like what I see in them. Hopefully, they are confident in their own skin and can take a curious look and take no offense to it. I am okay with people looking at me, as long as the look doesn’t appear to be in disapproval. One would hope that a curious look is just that, curiosity, not a judging look. While I hope my curious look isn’t offensive, I can understand how one could take offense to a certain kind of stare, as it may seem I am judging. I don’t intend to judge anyone, but I get now why the look could mean that I don’t approve of how they look. Personally, I believe anyone can do what they want with their body and I have no control over what others do. There are looks of approval, and there are looks of disapproval. I hope people know the difference. In the video of the “judge,” he did get looks like he might steal or might cause harm, when those looks were not necessary. Instead, he should have received, as all human beings should, a smile, a wave, a kind greeting, but that is not what happened.
Being that I am white, I may be looked at differently when I am with my husband, but I guess I have gotten to a point where I don’t even notice anymore. It all depends on where you are at. There are many states that my husband and I would never live in because of the prominent racism that exists, even though racism is everywhere, if you really think about it. My Japanese friend said she has received offensive looks when she has visited certain states in the U.S. and agrees about putting major thought into where she feels comfortable living. It all boils down to this: people will continue to look at others differently based on their appearances, but hopefully, we can get to a point where we can educate ourselves to learn how our looks can and will affect others in a negative way. If we expand our perspectives by reading, talking, and listening more, then we can smile more at people rather than giving the judging look.
So, the question really is, how do we make what some people say is “different” be accepted in our society? What I mean is, we are all unique and we should all accept one another. Humanity wants to feel comfortable going down any street, no matter what state they are in. We have to change the normal so that all are accepted, all are loved, and all are welcome. We have to change the narrative. Many of us believe a certain thing. For example: there is an elderly woman and a tatted out man with piercings in his nose. There is a motorcycle and a rocking chair. Who sits on which? Most people would say the elderly woman sits on the rocking chair and the guy with tattoos and piercings sits on the motorcycle. But, that is judging them just based on their looks. Or this example: A father and son are rushed to the hospital from a car crash. The father dies. The doctor says, “I cannot operate on the boy because he is my son.” How is this possible? It is possible because the boy’s mom is the doctor, but many people don’t automatically assume this. When I was little, I always thought women were nurses and men were doctors, so I get why people were confused about this story. We need to change the narrative, so that anybody could be a doctor despite their gender identity.
Maybe we start with baby steps, but I’m all for making the “new normal,” the quote everyone is using now, to be where we all just love one another and accept everyone for who they are.