The other day I had to go down to the south end of my drawbridge to do some maintenance. During rush hour, that involves walking down to the traffic light and crossing the road at the crosswalk. On this particular day there was a homeless woman sitting beside the crosswalk button. When I approached, she said, “Did you have fun playing with Catherine?”
When I told her that I didn’t know Catherine, she replied, “I find that to be bullshit,” and proceeded to curse me like a sailor.
Needless to say I was a bit startled. I was really happy when the light turned red and I was able to cross the street and get away from her. Apparently I need to leave Catherine alone. Not a problem.
That reminded me of something that happened about a month ago. I was walking down the sidewalk in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. That is kind of the LGBTQ hub here in Seattle. A man across the street started screaming at me. He called me a “dirty dyke” and told me I should repent.
Being mistaken for a lesbian bothers me not at all. It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last. But hey! I am not dirty. I shower. I floss. I shave my arm pits and everything. The nerve of some people.
As an average-looking white woman, I have the luxury of being shocked when random people hate me without knowing me. I will never have to resign myself to prejudice because I rarely encounter it. That makes me a very lucky person indeed.
So twice this month I got a tiny little insignificant taste of what it must be like to be a member of a minority. Being misunderstood and hated without being known is a really confusing and frustrating experience. And the sad thing is that there seems to be very little that you can do about it. It’s like being forced to stand there while acid is poured on you, by dint of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
You may not have any control over the emotions that come at you from others, but you have all the control in the world over the type of energy you put out. The best way to be a positive force for change in this world is to make sure you are not one of the acid pourers.