I love being black. I love my culture. I love my history. I subscribe to all things black. So, when people say they “don’t see color”; I’m always like, “how can you NOT?!” When someone sees Clinnesha I want them to see the essence of who I am and that INCLUDES being a woman of color. I get that I am more than my adornment, yes, but my black experiences have helped shape my human heart. So when I was told recently by a white woman: “I don’t see color. I see the content of people’s character,” I instantly felt the weight of the remark. Why couldn’t she see both color and character? She brought up the need for racial harmony sooo was the reality of color on her heart? And why was she quotin’ Martin Luther King?
Days after my encounter with the colorblind woman who just wanted us all to get along, I’m at the grocery store with my 6 and 2 year old. It’s a strategic store run, which means we’ll be in the store at least two hours. It means I must park next to a return cart station because the loading-up-process is going to be arduous. It means I’m shopping for multiple purposes: food and supplies for the house, school supplies, and items for a barbeque. It means I’ll be coaching the kids through the whole shopping experience, trying to make them feel valuable. It means I have the ibuprofen on deck.
After an hour and forty-five minutes of shopping, I briefly abandon my full buggy to take the kids to the bathroom before I check out. …Strategy. We make it to a checkout line and I unload the maxed-out cart while instructing the kids on where to stand and what not to touch. As I swiftly put things on the conveyor belt by category, the rotating bag dispenser continues to fill up. Simultaneously, I unload items from and return bagged items to this buggy.
By now, I have an audience. No one can imagine me getting all of these groceries back into this one buggy. …Except for this one white lady. She and her husband were in the neighboring lane. Her husband asked, “are you gonna make it, or do you need me to get you another buggy?” I smiled and said, “I think I can make it.” His wife then said calmly, “There’s an art to it…”
I left out of the store with one loaded buggy and two kids who were carrying lighter bags. The couple who silently rooted for me in the checkout line, happened to be parked near me in the parking lot. I put the kids inside the truck, started the engine and got the air/t.v. going. I walked to the back of the truck where I strategically placed my buggy and noticed the smiling couple approaching, “we’re gonna help you load your car,” the husband said.
At that moment, it was clear to me that these white people were not concerned with color. They saw an opportunity to be of service. They kept saying, “we get it”, referring to their older kids. It was the first time this sort of thing happened to me; and while the load-up was something I knew I could strategically handle, that moment was about pure human-kindness. And I welcomed it.
Remember when I said how much I love being black? I also have equal love capacity for human-kindness.
“The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it.” –George C. Scott
This couple hadn’t even unloaded their own groceries yet. They put me first. They put my daughters first. They were the calm after the storm. They saw me. They saw me. They saw me. And they followed their heart.
Clinnesha D. Sibley is an award-winning playwright and published poet/essayist. She is the Literary Arts Instructor at Mississippi School of the Arts in Brookhaven, MS. For more information, please visit: http://onepagerapp.com/clinneshadsibley.