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Friday, August 19, 2011

How I Learned To Wash Away My Racism

I was born to my mother when she was in her thirties. She was a strong woman, and by that I mean in character. Throughout life we are told to be all that we can be. However, what happens when that phrase isn’t really meant as it should be?  I never knew the meaning of strength in those terms until I grew up and had children of my own. My children and my husband pushed me into believing in myself. Now, as I look back on my life, I wonder what things would have been like if my parents knew then the things that I know now?
When I was younger my parents would tell me things about people who looked different from me. I thought that perhaps they were being a little too harsh. After all we are all people. However, it seems like there are a lot of people who share their ideas on our differences, and they often make it clear. I don’t understand why we hate each other?
I have learned that everyone has one thing in common. That one thing is the capacity to love. Right after 9-11 my family saw a big change. My husband was in Army and we were on our second duty station in Fort Irwin,CA. I still recall the day that it happened,and I recall the fear that jumped in my throat when I found out that our spouses were going to war. All a sudden a lot of Army people started getting orders to Germany from Fort Irwin. It seemed like almost every other house on the street was coming down on some type of order in the next four mores. My husband got orders to Germany..I cried for weeks. I didn't want to leave the United States, but I didn't want to be without Jonathan. So, I packed up our kids and we took off. In Germany I learned a lot about myself and this is what I learned while living in Germany. 

Now keep in mind that the war is new, and 9/11 wasn't that far away. It was maybe a year after the date. As I was getting on an air plane to fly back to Texas from Germany, I noticed a group of men from the middle east. Well, I hate to own up to it, but I was scared. Here I am getting on a plane, and a group of five or six men from the middle east are right beside me. In my mind I was thinking noooo they can't take the plane down..they have to understand that we are all the same. So, in  my mind the only thing I could think of..was to show them reasons not to blow up our plane.Chances are they never thought about anyway....I'm about 100% sure if they wanted to do it, no talking would have altered their thoughts on it. Yet, at the time I didn't know that, so I moved in close with my baby in one arm and my oldest child holding my hand. I must have talked his ear off the entire flight! By mid flight people were asking us if we were married because he was giving Ariana candy and playing with her. By the end of the flight I had learned two things about being that I was bias against a group of people that I knew nothing about. The other was...I was crazy for talking that poor man's ear off. After that day I never saw people from that area the same. My fears were so thick at one point that I didn't want to fly, yet something else pushed me. We judge people far too much. It really is coated in fear. If you take the time to get to know people, then the fear comes down.

Later on that year...on my flight back to Germany I would get schooled yet again. 
It was in the month of April, I will never forget that. In my mind April and snow didn't mix. However, on that day in Germany it was very cold, and we had a mild snow storm. So there I was trying to beat my husband back home before his tour ended in Iraq. I wanted to get my banners up and flowing. Anyway, I got to the airport in Frankfurt, Germany and everything that could have went wrong, went wrong. My friend’s car played out in route to picking us up.
I could have dealt with the situation if only it were myself being stranded, but I had my children with me so, it made things a thousand times harder. Alexis was five and Ariana was nearly two. We were in the middle of a snow storm. We had to take a bus to the base, and then we had to take a cab to the apartment for transportation. The very next day we had to walk in the snow, to sign Alexis up for school. Now, I will be the first one to tell you that I was once very judgmental. However, this was one of the things that helped to chip away at that habit. In the past I would see a mother walking in the rain with her children and instead of asking her if I could help, I would say stupid things like dumbass. So back to Germany. We are walking in the snow, praying that someone picked us up. A few cars drove by and nobody stopped, and along comes this lady in a small dark blue car. I still recall her car, and her face. She reminded me of an angel. I learned that day to never judge people again. So the question I asked myself was how to move forward without dealing with perceptions that others had set up for me? In truth before I ever reached Germany I was already told how bias the people were. I soon learned that they were some of the nicest people I have ever met. Yet you had your buttheads that would flip you off on the autobond if you were driving on a smaller spare know the kind of tire that you have to go very slow on...Yeah well I learned how to take the side roads that day!! However I didn't want to forget everything that I learned in Germany. Above all I wanted to take something back with me. The question was how could I learn to be a better person? The answer I came up with... was this..Life is something that nobody can predict. Take the time to understand people before you cast your judgement. Understand that no two situations are the same. Above all...if you see something that doesn't sound right in your heart it out.

So today I see America hurting in more ways than one. Money problems have hit us all, but we can recover from that. However how can we recover from all the hate that so many of us are letting out? It's time for us to own up to our problems, and ask yourself....what can I learn?

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