Thursday, December 1, 2016

Sensory Observations

I was in New York City the other day for a luncheon meeting with a friend of many years.

As I walked several blocks from the subway to a restaurant, I looked at all people differently. New York City is peopled with many races; White, Black, Asian, Indian, Hispanic and all cultures and races in-between.

 New York has a large black population, but blacks are still a minority population in this city.

When I was in Nairobi, Kenya a couple of years ago, Caucasian was not even a minority race. Caucasian was an anomaly, and I felt the difference. It was not a negative feeling, but more of an observational and sensory one. Maybe it was just me, but I felt I stood out in the crowd so to speak. I was never fearful; it only felt different.

The proportional difference between blacks and whites in New York City is far more than that of whites to blacks in Kenya. In Kenya, it was possible for me to travel miles and hours and not see another white person.

In the one to one of health-care in Kenya we were all one. In the political discussions of what should and could be done is where the oneness diverges.

In New York, I watched all people more closely than I ever did before. I looked at black mothers and fathers on the subway with their kids, and I did so with a new awareness and appreciation.

I saw tenderness, concern, and caring. I knew it was always there, but I was not as aware of it as I was yesterday. I watched family interactions with admiration and with the distant memory of covering the civil rights movement in the sixties. Back then, as a young reporter, I covered services in Black churches and listened to preachers call for justice and righteousness in an affirmative chorus of “Amen’s.”

I have a wiser appreciation of human identity and dignity the older I get.

I think one has to experience being a minority before one can understand that minority and majority should mean nothing. The only things that are truly important in life anywhere are smiles, courtesy, dignity, tolerance, equal opportunity and the unconditional acknowledgment of the sameness of being.

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