I have watched way too much cable news this week. I have seen way too many ugly images.
Two black men splayed out on the ground, mortally wounded by police bullets. Hoards of angry black men taunting police in riot gear, breaking windows and throwing bottles. A clueless white woman proclaiming at a political event, “If you’re black and you haven’t been successful in the last 50 years, it’s your own fault. You’ve had every opportunity, it was given to you.”
I do not wish to overlook the ugliness. It is real, and we cannot dismiss it. Forgive me, though. I need to seek balance. I need to see beauty.
The irony is, I do see beauty around me every day. In my city, I see black and white people meeting the challenge of living together in tough circumstances with beautiful results.
I see black men preparing their children for life in an uneven world with love and courage. I see single mothers carefully packing their strollers and packages together while lovingly tending to their young children on a lurching city bus. I see white and black people helping each other and enjoying each other’s company.
I see people meeting the challenges of poverty, limited opportunity and racial inequity with courage and pride, and that is beautiful to me, despite the ugliness that may predicate each person’s circumstances.
I also see black and white people succeeding together in less challenged neighborhoods than my own. I see people of all races working together in successful careers, and I see artists, musicians, actors and dancers creating together with amazing results.
The beauty is there to see if we SEE what we see.
As a white woman, I cannot pretend to understand the experience of a black man or woman in American society. I cannot imagine what it is like to have your beauty overlooked with regularity, simply because your color is considered ugly by some. I cannot know how it feels to have your strength and character dismissed without a thought because some people presume you are a criminal simply because of your color.
I cannot fathom the despair that comes from knowing that no one listens until anguish turns to anger, violence and destruction.
I can try, to understand, though. I can listen, and I can seek empathy. I can look for the beauty in each person that I meet, and I can celebrate it.
There is quiet, dignified beauty around us every day, but we ignore it. We seem to only pay attention to ugliness. I abhor violence, but I am beginning to understand why it emerges out of despair. If we allowed beauty to motivate change, the ugly would disappear.
Call me an idealist, but I believe beauty must be a part of our dialog towards change.
I may go unheard. I may go unnoticed. Even so, I want to celebrate the beauty I see. It is there, and it is what matters. I want to elevate it, in the hopes that recognizing beauty will help bring about change.
Will you join me?
Life is an Adventure!
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